Around this time every year, I make a personal plea to friends and comrades to help save the noblest and neediest cause I know. I do it because sometimes it makes a precious difference to some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
For several years now I have been involved with a local charity in Islington, north London, most recently as a trustee. It is called Prospex (Prospex.org.uk), and is staffed by the most humble, hard-working and inspirational people I know. Led by Beef Frankland, James Connolly and fantastic local volunteers, Prospex's street workers patrol the area north of King's Cross and bring stability to the lives of children impoverished by family breakdown, crime, drugs and much else. They cool local situations that have got too hot, saving countless lives in the process, and they offer utterly invaluable support of all kinds, from numeracy and literacy training to local work and mediation with schools or difficult parents.
I've seen Prospex workers throw themselves with astonishing bravery into terrifying situations, and nurture struggling young people over years. Hundreds if not thousands of kids know they simply wouldn't be alive were it not for Prospex.
So invaluable is the work these guys do that every social institution, from social workers to police to schools and youth clubs, comes to depend on their adult authority. Yet this is both a virtue and a vice, as it is difficult to raise money when you fall between stools. And that is where I'm asking for your help.
Like countless charities, the income of Prospex has been decimated since the financial crash. The local council has had its funding cut by central government and local benefactors are feeling the pinch. As a result, our tiny staff has taken pay cut after pay cut after pay cut, and now feed themselves and their families on virtually nothing. Our only hope is to broaden our donor base. That is why I'm asking for your help.
Please make a small donation to help keep alive this vital charity. Text QQPS18 £2 / £5 / £10 to 70070 to donate now (e.g. QQPS18 £2). If every person who reads this donated just £2, we could fund our charity for an entire year. If even a tenth of you did, we could fund two full-time street workers to save children's lives and heal communities. Thank you.