Prince William vows to keep ‘shining’ light on homelessness
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The Duke of Cambridge, who turns 40 tomorrow, has been involved with the charity Centrepoint for many years. The future King, who will celebrate his 40th birthday tomorrow (Tuesday June 26), has taken a keen interest in helping people affected by homelessness since he first visited a homeless shelter with his late mother Princess Diana aged 11.
Prince William reportedly makes half a dozen secret visits to accommodation services run by Centrepoint, which supports young people experiencing homelessness.
He has been patron of the charity since 2005 and at one point rang up the benefits office on behalf of a young person to help them get back on their feet.
Seyi Obakin, the charity’s CEO, said: “On one occasion, he spent a week with us, turned up and was presented as a locum staff.
“He even rang up the benefit office on behalf of one young person. That was an education for him!”
Reportedly introducing himself simply as “William” and described as “posh, polite and unusually patient”, the prince asked about what financial help the young person might be able to receive.
He did not reveal his identity as he enquired about all the different hoops young people have to jump through to get support.
Mr Obakin said the prince has also slept rough with him on the streets for a night as part of his work for the charity.
He said: “When someone said to him he looked like someone famous, William just smiled and replied: ‘I’ve heard people say that, but don’t believe it!’ And then he carried on working.
“He was so low-key, just turning up and doing his thing, that only the manager knew who he was.
“It is a measure of who he is that, by the time he got married, he had developed such a good relationship with that particular manager that he invited them to his wedding.”
The young prince first visited a homeless shelter, The Passage, in 2011 with his later mother Princess Diana and his younger brother Prince Harry.
Ahead of his birthday tomorrow, the duke has written an article and given an interview to the Big Issue, a charity which is sold by those affected by homelessness, and vowed to continue shining a light on the problem.
In the magazine, Prince William explained why he refuses “to believe that homelessness is an irrevocable fact of life”.
He said: “While I may seem like one of the most unlikely advocates for this cause, I have always believed in using my platform to help tell those stories and to bring attention and action to those who are struggling.
“I count myself extremely lucky to have a role that allows me to meet people from all walks of life, and to understand their full story – whatever it may be. It’s a privilege that many of us, busy with our days, don’t always afford.
He added that he intends to follow in his mother’s footsteps and introduce his children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, to charitable causes in the future.
The prince tried to go under the radar earlier this month to sell copies of The Big Issue on the streets of London with vendor Dave Martin.
Wearing a red vendor’s vest and a baseball cap and official accreditation on his chest, the prince spent time with Mr Martin outside a Sainsbury’s Local in Victoria, a 10-minute walk from Buckingham Palace.
News of the prince’s presence soon spread and a queue formed of people eager to meet the keen, with all 32 copies of the magazine snapped up in under an hour – a feet that would usually take a vendor roughly a week to sell.
William described his time with Mr Martin as “eye-opening” and told the Big Issue it left him feeling optimistic about tackling homelessness.
He said: “I wanted to experience the other side and see what it was like to be a Big Issue vendor.
“My time was truly eye-opening. I was lucky to join Dave on a warm, sunny day in June. People recognised a familiar face and were happy to give me the time of day.
“But that isn’t the case for the vast majority of Big Issue vendors.”
He added: “It started to feel that actually, this issue isn’t quite as big to tackle as we think. But it feels like it’s gone back to what it was before the pandemic.
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“We can fix it. It is possible to – I never want to say completely end homelessness, because every day something else might happen for someone – but get on top of it more than we have done.”
The Duke is patron of two homeless charities, Centrepoint and The Passage.
Writing for the Big Issue, he described how his mother took him to the homeless shelter to broaden his horizons.
He said: “Ever since I came here with my mother, homelessness has stuck with me as an issue I want to fight for. I’ve done everything I can to raise the profile of the homeless, and I want to do a lot more.”
The prince said he felt the need to “highlight something that matters to me” before his 40th birthday.
He said: “So, for my part, I commit to continue doing what I can to shine a spotlight on this solvable issue not just today, but in the months and years to come.
“And in the years ahead, I hope to bring George, Charlotte and Louis to see the fantastic organisations doing inspiring work to support those most in need – just as my mother did for me.”
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