Monday, July 15, 2024

Prince William apologies for his loss of voice after shouting himself hoarse during England’s victorious semi-final as he marks first year of his £3m homelessness initiative Homewards in Lambeth

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The Prince of Wales has apologised for his loss of voice today after shouting himself hoarse during England’s victorious semi-final.

Prince William, 42, marked the first year of his £3million Homewards initiative by returning to the London Borough of Lambeth, where he first launched the project.

During his outing, the keen football fan revealed he shouted himself hoarse during the Three Lions’ tense semi-final victory over the Netherlands in Germany.

The future King apologised for his slight loss of voice as he met representatives working to eradicate homelessness in six locations: Newport, Lambeth, Belfast, Aberdeen, Sheffield and three neighbouring Dorset towns, Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch.

In a speech he reiterated his belief that homelessness ‘can be ended’ and said the ideas and approaches being developed in the six target areas ‘will have the power to inspire change across the UK and beyond’.

Prince William (pictured watching England against Switzerland in Germany on July 6) apologised for his slight loss of voice as he met representatives working to eradicate homelessness in six locations: Newport, Lambeth, Belfast, Aberdeen, Sheffield and three neighbouring Dorset towns, Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch

The prince, who is president of the Football Association and an Aston Villa fan, posted on social media after manager Gareth Southgate’s team booked their place in the Euro 2024 final with a last-gasp goal by Villa player Ollie Watkins.

Writing under his own name William posted on X: ‘What a beauty, Ollie! Congratulations England!’

Ian Jones, head of external engagement at Bournemouth University, which is involved with the Homewards project, brought up England’s victory while chatting to William: ‘He said he was hoarse and he would be, he’s an Aston Villa fan.

‘I just told him working with Homewards makes us proud just as he would have felt last night when Ollie Watkins scored the last goal.

‘Of course he wanted to talk about last night as well. He said how proud he was about their victory last night and was convinced Ollie Watkins would do something great – he knew that.

‘And he said the self-belief in it, that’s the sort of thing he’s trying to do with us, to work on these projects.’

During the past year, the Homewards teams in six UK locations have been building collaborations between the public, private and third sectors with the aim of laying foundations.

Homebase pledged £1million to the project, which is also supported by Pret-a-Manger. The coffee chain has also expanded its scheme employing the homeless.

Prince William, 42, marked the first year of his £3million Homewards initiative by returning to the London Borough of Lambeth, where he first launched the project

Prince William, 42, marked the first year of his £3million Homewards initiative by returning to the London Borough of Lambeth, where he first launched the project

Prince William, 42, marked the first year of his £3million Homewards initiative by returning to the London Borough of Lambeth, where he first launched the project

In a speech William (pictured) reiterated his belief that homelessness 'can be ended' and said the ideas and approaches being developed in the six target areas 'will have the power to inspire change across the UK and beyond'

In a speech William (pictured) reiterated his belief that homelessness ‘can be ended’ and said the ideas and approaches being developed in the six target areas ‘will have the power to inspire change across the UK and beyond’

The prince’s commitment to tackling the social issue reflects his understanding of the ‘trauma’ experienced by rough sleepers, an official advocate for the project has suggested.

In a speech in Lambeth, one of Homewards’ six locations, William said: ‘It’s fantastic to be back in Lambeth, where a year ago we launched Homewards and began our journey of working together to demonstrate that it is possible to end homelessness…

‘Homelessness is a complex societal issue and one that touches the lives of far too many people in our society. However, I truly believe that it can be ended.’

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, chief fire officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, who experienced homelessness as a teenager, is an official Homewards advocate and suggested the prince had empathy for rough sleepers because of his own life experiences.

When a teenager, William suffered the trauma of the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who had been taking the young royal and his brother to homeless shelters to broaden their horizons.

‘He understands trauma, he does understand trauma,’ said Ms Cohen-Hatton. She added: ‘He can see echoes of it in himself I think, from that experience of trauma and how it affects you and how it affects the way you see things.’

Ms Cohen-Hatton slept rough intermittently for two years from the age of 15 in her home town of Newport, South Wales after family life broke down following the death of a parent, and she credits selling the Big Issue magazine as providing the funds and confidence to break the cycle.

She stressed it was difficult accessing support in the midst of homelessness: ‘When you’re experiencing the constant threat and the danger from the people around you, when you don’t have enough to eat let alone enough to think, it’s really hard to reach out and to take those services.’

In a speech in Lambeth, one of Homewards' six locations, William said: 'It's fantastic to be back in Lambeth, where a year ago we launched Homewards and began our journey of working together to demonstrate that it is possible to end homelessness...'

In a speech in Lambeth, one of Homewards’ six locations, William said: ‘It’s fantastic to be back in Lambeth, where a year ago we launched Homewards and began our journey of working together to demonstrate that it is possible to end homelessness…’

'Homelessness is a complex societal issue and one that touches the lives of far too many people in our society. However, I truly believe that it can be ended,' added Prince William (pictured)

‘Homelessness is a complex societal issue and one that touches the lives of far too many people in our society. However, I truly believe that it can be ended,’ added Prince William (pictured)

The senior fire officer did not talk about her period of sleeping rough for more than 20 years because of the associated ‘stigma’ but said one of her roles as an advocate was to ‘talk about changing the stigma and challenging people’s perceptions of homelessness’.

William is said to be in almost daily contact with Homewards’ senior management and has been welcoming advocates like broadcaster Gail Porter and Ms Cohen-Hatton to Windsor Castle for discussions.

A forthcoming ITV documentary, which has followed the prince during Homewards’ first year, will feature the senior fire officer taking a former long-term homeless man to meet William and tell his story.

Homelessness in various forms, from children living in temporary accommodation to rough sleepers in the capital, has reached record highs.

Government statistics published in April showed there were 145,800 children in temporary accommodation by December 31 last year, up by a fifth on 20 years ago when records for this measure began.

The official figures showed there were a total of 112,660 households in bedsits or hotels in England, of which 71,280 were households with children.

In London, 11,993 people were seen sleeping rough in the year to March, according to the latest Combined Homelessness and Information Network (Chain) statistics.

Matt Downie, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, a Homewards sector partner, said about the issue: ‘We are facing some really, really tough times. Homelessness is going up but actually, the evidence to end homelessness has never been better.’

Prince William and Centrepoint CEO Seyi Obakin prepare for a night in freezing temperatures in 2009

Prince William and Centrepoint CEO Seyi Obakin prepare for a night in freezing temperatures in 2009

Prince William pictured with Big Issue vendor Dave Martin in 2022, when he first went out to do his bit to help the homeless by selling the magazine

Prince William pictured with Big Issue vendor Dave Martin in 2022, when he first went out to do his bit to help the homeless by selling the magazine

Moving from ‘managing to ending’ homelessness was a big mental leap that Homewards was helping to drive, and ‘prevention’ was a key aim, as the types of people at risk of losing their homes could be identified.

He highlighted Finland’s success in reducing the number of homeless families to less than 150 since 2008, results Homewards hopes to replicate and its team are liaising with the Finns.

The Scandinavians began by housing long-term rough sleepers quickly before moving on to the general population and now night shelters are no longer needed.

Mr Downie said tackling the problem would be ‘hard work’ as there was ‘no silver bullet here’ but, speaking on behalf of the homelessness sector, he said about Homewards ‘this is special, this is big and this will help us make a step change in the fight to tackle and end homelessness’.

Homewards aims to develop bespoke solutions to homelessness in Newport, three neighbouring Dorset towns – Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch – Lambeth, Belfast, Aberdeen and Sheffield, that in the future can be replicated in other UK areas.

The second year will turn ‘collaboration into action’ said Homewards’ management and in the autumn, each location will publish action plans that reflect their needs, from targeting families and young people in Sheffield to people living in care and women in Northern Ireland.

The initiative was recently given a boost worth £1 million from DIY retailer Homebase, which has pledged up to 1,500 home starter packs, featuring everything from paint to furniture, to help people housed by Homewards turn a property into a home.

It is one of 11 companies or ‘activators’ providing expertise and in-kind support alongside Pret A Manger, which is helping an additional 500 people experiencing homelessness get jobs at its outlets as part of the firm’s Rising Stars programme.

The global property firm Knight Frank was named as the latest business supporter as was international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

A speech delivered by The Prince of Wales at an event to mark the first year of Homewards 

Thank you, Amanda and good morning, everyone.

For me, it’s fantastic to be back in Lambeth, where a year ago we launched Homewards, I can’t believe it, and began our journey of working together to demonstrate that it is possible to end homelessness.

Homelessness is a complex societal issue, and one that touches the lives of far too many people in our society.

However, I truly believe that it can be ended.

I created Homewards because I wanted us to look at the issue of homelessness through a different lens: to inspire a movement to prevent people from ever experiencing homelessness in the first place.

I know this will take a huge effort. And I know that demonstrating that homelessness is not an inevitable part of our society will take time.

I have though, been struck by the scale of the work that has been carried out since the launch of Homewards and I hope it is a powerful reminder to everyone of what can be achieved when we work together towards a shared goal.

Over the past twelve months, across our six locations an incredible amount of work has been done to build the foundations for success.

Coalitions have been built, bringing together over 500 individuals and organisations who are setting ambitious priorities and co-developing new ways of addressing homelessness, that are local, relevant and collaborative – something that has never been done before on this scale.

Eleven industry leading companies have joined our mission – providing in-kind support and expertise to support our six locations. To them, I say thank you. To those who are not yet involved, I urge you to come and join us on this journey.

Already, a pipeline of nearly 100 homes is being established through the innovative housing projects which will be developed in each location – and believe me – my ambitions alone mean there will be so many more!

We are also working to change the way we all think about homelessness. Today, homelessness touches so many more than the men and women we sadly see on our streets. We will improve understanding about the different forms of homelessness, shifting perceptions and boosting optimism that it can be ended.

As we gather here today in Lambeth, it’s an opportunity for us to take stock of all the hard work that has already been done over the last year as we work together to make homelessness rare, brief and unrepeated. But, there is so much more work still to do.

The energy and enthusiasm that each individual and organisation is bringing to the programme, and to showing that it is possible to end homelessness in their local area, is inspiring and I know, together, we can do this.

Having met and worked with so many sector partners in the years before launching Homewards, it was clear that there was an opportunity to build on the strong tradition of collaboration between local authorities and charities, while encouraging businesses and the private sector that they too can play a part.

I am pleased to see that this approach is already sparking innovation and creative partnerships.

All of us in this room know that changing a system to focus on prevention, rather than simply managing the crisis, will take time.

In our second year, each of our locations will finalise their action plans and start delivering the solutions that will create lasting impact.

And not just in our six locations. The ideas and approaches that our coalitions are developing will have the power to inspire change across the UK and beyond.

Thank you so much for being part of this journey with us. And for your commitment in making our mission possible.

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