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Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visits award-winning social enterprise, The Skill Mill

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited The Skill Mill, a social enterprise focused on rehabilitating young ex-offenders, to present two prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. 

Today (Tuesday, 8th February), Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited The Skill Mill, a social enterprise focused on rehabilitating young ex-offenders, to present two prestigious Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. 

The Skill Mill delivers an intensive six-month employment programme to get 16 to 18-year-olds into work and away from crime. It was one of only five organisations across the UK to win a double prize, claiming recognition in the ‘Sustainable Development’ and ‘Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility)’ categories. 

Her Royal Highness arrived at Exhibition Park, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne this afternoon, and met David Parks, Managing Director of The Skill Mill. During the visit, HRH met with Skill Mill teams from around the country and was shown around the park where she heard about what the organisation does to help young ex-offenders break the cycle of offending through employment in environmental construction services and saw examples of their work. HRH also met the team from Urban Green who manage the parks and allotments of Newcastle Upon Tyne and who co-hosted the visit.

Her Royal Highness then presented the social enterprise with the two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise 2021 and planted an Apple tree, to commemorate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee 2022.

Having almost closed during the early stages of the pandemic, The Skill Mill has grown four-fold in the last two years – with sixteen teams now operating across England. 

David Parks, Founder of The Skill Mill and Managing Director, said: “It is an incredible honour to have met with Her Royal Highness, we are very grateful to her for visiting and seeing the work we do and present us with the Queen’s Awards.” 

“To be awarded one Queen’s Award is an incredible achievement by any standards, to get two is something none of us could ever have imagined, and especially being a social enterprise. It’s fantastic recognition for our staff, partners and the young people we employ – they’ve all shown such resilience and fortitude in the past two years to grow our services and increase our geographic reach and help more young people into work and away from crime. 

“Covid-19 has impacted young people’s labour market hardest and especially for those on the margins. We aim to build on this recognition and continue the next steps on our journey and it has made us even more determined to increase opportunity and sustainability through our work. More than anything these awards say that we are a trusted business, a caring employer and a great company to do business with and we welcome enquiries from likeminded organisations who want to work with us.” 

Mark Lovell, Head of the Outcome Investment Fund for Big Issue Invest Fund Management, said: “We are incredibly proud to have been able to support The Skill Mill go from strength to strength. Our investment alongside partners has supported Skill Mill’s pioneering work on new outcome and impact approaches extend to new localities and more young people. The work they do to help young people on the margins is excellent and I am so pleased their work is being recognised by such a high honour.”

For further information, please visit www.theskillmill.org.

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