The Prince of Wales is launching a five-year campaign to tackle homelessness in the UK by providing innovative new housing in six pilot locations across the country. Prince William has arrived in Lambeth for the first stop of his 48-hour UK tour as he spotlights local projects to prevent homelessness.
The royal was at Mosaic Clubhouse in south London which supports people with mental health conditions living in the borough, with the visit focussing on breaking the link between having mental health conditions and ending up on the streets. The Prince of Wales gave a moving speech whilst at the centre, and recalled the lasting impression that visits to homeless shelters with his mother, the late Princess Diana, made on him.
“My first visit to a homelessness shelter was when I was 11 with my mother. The visits we made, left a deep and lasting impression,” William said as he launched the program. “I met so many extraordinary people and listened to so many heart-breaking personal stories. Too many people have found themselves without a stable and permanent place to call home.”
He said his new campaign Homewards has taken two years to put together – though it is something that he has wanted to do for a decade. Vowing to support the charities on board, William said: “Through Homewards we will demonstrate that together we can finally end homelessness.” The heir to the throne will announce further details of the program over the next two days as he visits six pilot projects around the country that have received grants of up to £500,000 each from the Royal Foundation, the charity that supports the work of William and his wife.
At the visit today, William spoke with Clubhouse members with lived experiences of homelessness and heard how Mosaic has supported them during the most difficult times in their lives. William then met representatives from Old Spike Roastery, a speciality coffee social enterprise that offers employment opportunities to the homeless community before delivering a short speech.
While meeting with coalition partners for his Homewards initiative the Prince said it is “quite exciting” and he “can’t believe” the project is starting as he is “looking forward” to the next five years. He added that although his Homewards plan has taken two years to put together it has been in his head for around a decade. Around 300,000 people in the UK today are currently homeless, with the Prince’s five-year project aiming to reduce these numbers and making homelessness “rare, brief and unrepeated”.
The campaign will see six pilot projects be launched at different locations around the UK, with local authorities, businesses, housing organisations and individuals being encouraged to develop “bespoke” action plans for each area. William’s Royal Foundation is providing the initial £3million of funding, with each location receiving £500,000 to kickstart the scheme. The Prince was first inspired to take action to end homelessness when his late mother Princess Diana took him to a homeless shelter when he was a child.
He said: “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.” William added: “It’s a big task, but I firmly believe that by working together it is possible to make homelessness rare, brief and unrepeated and I am very much looking forward to working with our six locations to make our ambition a reality.”
The future King is Patron of the homeless charities Centrepoint and The Passage, and earlier this month he opened a Centrepoint youth housing scheme in Peckham consisting of 33 flats set at affordable rent rates. He hs also met with politicians Sir Keir Starmer and Michael Gove as part of his charitable mission, despite the royal generally avoiding political involvement. William’s advisers have said government involvement is necessary to ensuring the housing is built to scale.