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The Warsaw Voice » Other » November 20, 2002
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Charles in Action
November 20, 2002 By Ewa Hancock   
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Prince Charles has spent his life in the headlines. Not only because of his royal birth, but because he is evidently the type of person who likes to be involved, rather than sit on the sidelines.

With His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, this involvement usually has a very practical streak. Dubbed "action man" in his youth, in adult life the Prince has founded and inspired innumerable charitable organisations, active not only the United Kingdom, but internationally.

Many of his ideas have even been ahead of their time, such as organic farming or his interest in responsible business practice. In neither case is the interest purely academic. The Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) exists not only to promote good business practice, but to lead by example, through practical projects which show just how business can add to the community it depends on.

And so it was that 40 long-term unemployed youngsters and their leaders, volunteers from local labour offices in the Cracow region on an Autokreacja training programme organised by the IBLF, came to have a very special visitor. "Autokreacja is based on the Recharge programme run by the Prince's Trust in Scotland," explained Witold Kochan, IBLF associate, based in Gorlice in southern Poland. "I attended this programme in 1994, as part of a group from Poland. On my return, the IBLF asked me to adapt the programme to Polish conditions-and Autokreacja was the result. It's a one-week course, funded by top firms and charities, and largely run by managers working on a voluntary basis."

The Prince of Wales' visit coincided with a mentoring session run by managers from Tesco, Era GSM, Bovis and BP, and the Prince was able not only to listen, but to talk to the youngsters about how they found the programme, as well as their experiences in their daily lives. "We tried to keep the visit a secret until the last minute," said Education Director Barbara Borowicz, "but most of the youngsters realised something was going on when the security men turned up." For the young participants it was a day they will remember for the rest of their lives, and the publicity the visit attracted certainly helped many of them to secure job offers.

Recently, many of the people involved with Autokreacja for so many years have taken the step of forming an association to develop the project's work on a nationwide basis in conjunction with the IBLF. The Prince's visit was a tremendous boost to their activities; he met the committee-Chairperson Dorota Adamska of BP, Katarzyna Gontarczyk of the Sheraton Hotel, Grazyna Goslings of Commercial Union, as well as representatives of the supporters, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Tesco and PricewaterhouseCoopers. As the Prince noted, there were a lot of changes since he last visited Poland nine years ago, and that positive action on the part of business to improve the socio-economic environment was vital to continued development.
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