My week: Peter Stanford gets a little irritated

Monday: I've always cried too much - my grandmother used to say "your water's too near your eyes" - so it's not a measure of worth.

But there's a tear there as I attend the graduation ceremony at the Hackney Museum of the latest group of five to 11-year-olds to go through the mentoring scheme run by Chance UK, the charity for vulnerable children. 

These are kids, as Gracia McGrath, the charity's impressive chief executive explains, who have been told repeatedly during their short lives by families, friends and schools that they are a problem. Yet here they are walking up to receive their certificates and hear a public commendation that says they have every prospect of turning out well. Chance UK is a favourite of Gordon Brown's. Perhaps when he gets round to moving next door, he'll promote its methods of supporting troubled youngsters, rather than locking up record numbers of them.

Tuesday: I'm still marvelling at the patience of Chance UK's volunteer mentors when one of the young ex-prisoners I work with at the Longford Trust stands me up. I end up phoning him. "Where are you?" I ask. "Oh, I just forgot," he casually replies. One part of me knows that re-adjusting to life outside prison is tough, so I should forget about it. Another wants to say: "And you still want us to provide financial support for your studies when you can't even bother to make a meeting?"

Wednesday: I must learn to think twice when anyone asks me to speak in public. I spend the evening at my local parish church on a panel with the priest and a nun as the token 'normal' person answering questions from a group of 14-year-olds preparing to be confirmed. "Is sex before marriage a sin?" one of them asks with a conviction I lacked at his age. I struggle and fail to say anything very positive about the official Catholic line. Just being asked this question makes me feel as old as the hills.

Thursday: I was the boy at school who spent sports day holding the coats, so the annual sports quiz dinner run by Aspire at Lord's cricket ground is perhaps not my natural milieu. Luckily, I'm on a table with Jon Champion, the ITV sports commentator. A competitive streak, usually deeply buried and often hotly denied, quickly rises to the surface.

Friday: I feel irritated when listening to morning news as the chief executive of Alcohol Concern tries, clumsily, to distance herself from her own headline-grabbing proposal that it should be illegal for under-15s to be given even a teaspoon of alcohol by responsible parents, and move the debate on to sensible suggestions about under-age binge drinking. Such stunts do no one in the voluntary sector any favours.

- Peter Stanford is a writer and broadcaster, chairman of Aspire and director of the Frank Longford Charitable Trust.

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