First Round: A jolly good Clegg

For a short, improbable period before the last UK General Election, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was the UK’s most popular politician.

These days, however, as Deputy Prime Minister in the Coalition government, his popularity has plummeted to such an extent that ‘PR opportunity with Nick Clegg’ is right up there with ‘banker remorse’ in the oxymoron stakes.

However, First Round is reliably informed that the Deputy PM is, as they say, a very good egg. And he certainly confirmed that impression recently when he went to visit a school in East London to see the work being done by Think Forward, an early intervention programme developed by the Private Equity Foundation.

The idea – part of PEF’s general focus on young people not in education, employment, or training – is to connect likely NEETs in disadvantaged schools with so-called Super Coaches, who work intensively with their charges to help them achieve better outcomes. So far, success rates are running at around 98 percent (which sadly is the kind of rating our Right Honourable friend can only dream of these days).

In fact it’s been a busy few weeks for PEF: in October it also ran its annual football tournament, where 14 teams from across the industry came together in London to battle it out. This turned out to be an excellent opportunity for PEF – or more precisely City Year, the youth charity whose UK branch PEF founded – to absolutely thrash all its sponsors and supporters at the beautiful game. And yet their vanquished foes still stumped up £26,000 in sponsorship. As one who sulks for hours after losing a game of Scrabble, First Round can only applaud that kind of sportsmanship. n