Prince William today launches an ambitious £3million programme to ‘end’ homelessness within five years.
The future king is personally funding, through his Royal Foundation’s charitable arm, six projects in flagship locations across the UK.
They will bring together local stakeholders, experts and even house builders to eradicate rough sleeping, ‘sofa surfing’ and temporary hostels and bring about substantive change.
As a member of the Royal Family, William acknowledges his critics may question why someone from such a privileged background believes they can solve such a widespread issue.
Figures suggest more than 300,000 people – nearly half of whom are children – are homeless, whether living on the streets, in cars, or hostels and other types of temporary accommodation.
Prince William listens as he meets with Tyrone Mings, Gail Porter, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton and David Duke, ahead of the launch of Homewards – a five-year programme to demonstrate that it is possible to end homelessness in the UK
As a member of the Royal Family, William acknowledges his critics may question why someone from such a privileged background believes they can solve such a widespread issue
The programme, run by his Royal Foundation, will be known as ‘Homewards’. Pictured: Prince William greets television personality Gail Porter
Pictured: Prince William meets with Aston Villa star Tyrone Mings
William was introduced to homelessness by his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, at the age of 11 on a secret visit to a homeless shelter run by The Passage, of which he is now patron.
He has been involved with several organisations working in the field ever since, including Centrepoint and The Big Issue. Now the 41-year-old heir to the throne believes he can use his unique convening power as a member of the Royal Family to bring together coalitions of individuals, organisations and businesses to work together based on specific local needs.
The programme, run by his Royal Foundation, will be known as ‘Homewards’.
Launching the initiative today, with hopes of turning conventional thinking about the problem on its head, the prince will say: ‘In a modern and progressive society, everyone should have a safe and secure home, be treated with dignity and given the support they need. Through Homewards, I want to make this a reality and over the next five years, give people across the UK hope that homelessness can be prevented when we collaborate.
‘It’s a big task, but I firmly believe that by working together it is possible to make homelessness rare, brief and unrepeated.’
William will unveil the six locations over the next two days on a tour of the UK.
Sources say he feels inspired by his mother who would be celebrating her 62nd birthday this week. ‘She is very much in his thoughts as he embarks on this,’ said one source. ‘This isn’t just his legacy, it’s his mother’s legacy. This means so much to him and meant so much to his mother.
‘He is committed to transforming the way we as a nation think about homelessness. The prince really is the heart and soul of [the programme].’
William has been involved with several organisations working in the field ever since, including Centrepoint and The Big Issue. Pictured: Opening the Centrepoint Helpline in 2017
Diana, Princess of Wales during a visit to the homeless charity The Passage with her sons, (then) Prince Harry (2nd left) and Prince William (2nd right) in the early 1990s
William was introduced to homelessness by his late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, at the age of 11 on a secret visit to a homeless shelter run by The Passage, of which he is now patron. Pictured: Diana speaks at the Centrepoint Conference for the Homeless in 1995
Prince William and Centrepoint CEO Seyi Obakin prepare for a night in freezing temperatures in 2009
Figures suggest more than 300,000 people – nearly half of whom are children – are homeless
Although there has been no public acknowledgement from his father, sources say the King wants Homewards to serve as William’s legacy in the same way The Prince’s Trust, which helps young people aged 11-30 find jobs, education and training, did for King Charles.
A source close to the prince told the Mail that William refused to be deviated off-course by critics who ‘no doubt will complain’ that the Royal Family should use their own massive property portfolio for public good.
Matt Downie, chief executive of homelessness charity Crisis, said: ‘Homelessness is devastating, dangerous and isolating. The factors pushing people in to it are complex.
‘Years of low wages and insecure work have left people with little protection from sudden economic shocks and the welfare system isn’t able to adequately support them when they do need help.’
At each of the six locations, Homewards will support local partners to form coalitions of individuals, organisations and businesses who will work together to deliver a tailored plan to prevent homelessness in their area based on local needs and expertise.