‘We have a responsibility towards our young people’
Len Trusty has been a trustee of Fight 4 Change (Fight For Change Foundation Ltd – Charity Commission 1143318) since it started back in 2009.
He is one of seven trustees working hard to ensure that it continues to use sport to inspire and educate young people and adults to make a positive change in their lives. We spoke to him at the launch of the ‘Made by Sport’ campaign launch.
Fight 4 Change: What does it feel like to be at this event with all these young people, Olympians, royalty, media and stakeholders – an event that Fight 4 Change and the Black Prince Community Hub acted as a catalyst for?
Len Trusty: It’s an objective which we set out to do: to highlight what Fight 4 Change does, what we know and how we can be influential for the young people.
It’s like backing a winning horse; once the powers that be hear about it, they want to be part of it and associate their name to it in some capacity.
So today we’ve got the likes of two Olympians, Prince Harry and others all coming here to a site which we’ve all taken 6-7 years to really build.
We’re doing our job but we’re still a long way from where we need to be and where we aim to be. We just want to be a household name which is doing things on the ground. We are careful not to be so much in the middle where you can lose touch with what you set out to do when you first started the charity.
We always remember why we started Fight 4 Change and that is why we are unique: everyone associated with it has that common touch with young people. We know them personally, they come in and call us by our first names, they can approach us.
Maybe in some others organisations that wouldn’t be possible but it’s Rebecca Donnelly MBE, our CEO who’s really put it on her back, and all the staff, who’ve built the name as opposed to anything else.
Fight 4 Change: The ‘Made by Sport’ campaign is working together with the Sport for Development Coalition to highlight the sport for development sector faces through cutbacks and the strain on resources and finances. You see these strains first-hand so why is this campaign important?
Len Trusty: You can’t do anything on your own it’s simple as that. You always need partners to come in who have the same goals and aspirations as yourself.
The fact that we’ve been highlighted to be associated with something like the ‘Made by Sport’ campaign launch, which has so much publicity behind it, can only be good for us as Fight 4 Change and the Black Prince Community Hub.
It shows that we are doing the right thing as they’ve identified us to be associated with them so that’s good.
I can only be proud of where we are because you can’t rest on your laurels especially with the amount, of cutbacks surrounding charity these days. Getting funding is so difficult and this is what ‘Made by Sport’ recognises as well.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg – we need to keep pushing and not really look behind. We need to keep going forward because if you stand still you go backwards.
With the amount of funding cutbacks, it’s so hard to get funding now and just to still be in the game means you’ve accomplished something.
Fight 4 Change: Do you feel that pressure to continue providing the level of service you do? You have many people relying on you, most important those young people you work with.
Len Trusty: We have a responsibility to these young people. We’ve encouraged them to come into our programmes and said; ‘we’re going to help you’. We’ve said we will look at what they are doing and what they want to do with their lives – whether they want to go down the educational route or the sporting route.
Once we’ve got them there it is our responsibility to do all we can to find the exit routes which will lead them into their career paths and the ambition they’ve set out.
We all let them down if we just drop them.
So, we’ve always got this open-door policy where they can always come back and drop in to us if they need any information, career-wise, personal; we will always try our best.
Fight 4 Change: Are events like this launch, with all the famous attendees almost like a reward for all the hard work that the young people have put in, as well as the charity itself?
Len Trusty: Even when I was growing up I never thought I would meet someone like Anthony Joshua or Nicola Adams, let alone royalty.
Prince Harry has come here today and you’re almost an arm’s length – a boxing reach – away. You just don’t see it in person normally, only on TV.
Then you start thinking; ‘oh, they’re just real people’. It bridges that gap from being they are completely different from us. It becomes tangible.
That can only inspire and spur the young people on, to think ‘I’m being noticed’. As a youngster you want to be noticed. You want to know that you have a part to play in your community, within society as a whole.
Fight 4 Change: You know the Black Prince Community Hub inside-out. A central London, community-based centre offering sporting and educational pathways for all those who attend. Why is this venue so important for the work Fight 4 Change, and others, do?
Len Trusty: To have a hub where you provide so many different disciplines on your doorstep, free of charge, I think is quite unheard of really and that’s why Black Prince is so important.
Young people can access so many different sports and so many facilities on their doorstep. It is quite unique, for any charity to be able to offer that to young people, free of charge, in London.
What’s quite ironic is that we’re literally a stones-throw from parliament, just cross Lambeth Bridge and you’re there. You can’t really buy it. You couldn’t make it up. If you were going to plant yourself as a charity and wanted to place yourself in a really strategic location then you can’t ask for a better location than this.
Fight 4 Change: Was there one memory you can take from the day?
Len Trusty: There was one young man, a big guy, who really gravitated to AJ. You could see the confidence he got from AJ just being personal and charming to him. You could see the young person grow.
Also, in the room, the energy what these guests generated for these young people; they’re buzzing, there’s no other word. They will be buzzing for a while.
I’m buzzing too. I’ve never met Prince Harry, but I don’t look him at anyone different from myself, but the fact that you’re in a room with him in something that you’ve helped create, and he’s coming to an environment you helped to create you’ve got to pat yourself on the back haven’t you?