Housing

Prince William pays tribute to 'brave' rough sleepers at visit to Sheffield homelessness project

The royal visited Sheffield as part of his five-year Homewards project, launched  in partnership with the Big Issue last year

Prince William launches Homewards

Prince William launches Homewards in 2023. Image: The Royal Foundation

Prince William has unveiled two major new commitments to help end homelessness, hailing “brave” rough sleepers and briefly paying tribute to his absent wife, Kate Middleton.

The royal visited Sheffield as part of his five-year Homewards project, launched in partnership with the Big Issue last year.

He revealed that DIY retailer Homebase has pledged £1m worth of support to families and individuals on the brink of or experiencing homelessness. The retail giant will provide up to 1,500 ‘Home Starter Packs’ to innovative housing projects housing vulnerable people.

Housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa – who has experienced homelessness with his own family and now campaigns to raise awareness of the importance of high-quality housing – said that the packs will support family wellbeing.

“Safe, permanent and secure housing is paramount to ensure homelessness does not become part of a family’s story,” he said.

“It’s an honour to be part of the work with Homebase and Homewards to help ensure that families who are struggling can have somewhere to live that feels like home. From there they can build the foundations to really thrive.”

In a second significant initiative, the Prince of Wales revealed that local Sheffield landlords have committed to provide 31 homes as a start for families at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness in the city.

On his visit to Sheffield, William told a rough sleeper who shared his story that he was “brave” and urged local advocates to share their expertise.

“You guys know this better than I do, but there is no one-size or one solution that fits all,” he said. “I see it almost as an umbrella and all your ideas, wisdom and experiences together, and we can mix around and produce something.”

When the topic of early childhood was brought up, the Prince mentioned his wife Kate, saying: “That’s my wife’s area, she needs to sit here.”

The Princess of Wales is a patron of various early years campaigns, such as the 2023 ‘Shaping Us’ campaign.

The royal couple has been the subject of fevered speculation in recent weeks, as Catherine, Princess of Wales, has been absent from royal duties since Christmas following abdominal surgery. Yesterday, The Sun published a photo of the royal couple shopping near their home in Windsor.

Prince William’s Homewards project is five-year scheme to tackle homelessness in the UK. On its launch, the Prince said it was possible to end homelessness.

“In a modern and progressive society, everyone should have a safe and secure home, be treated with dignity and given the support they need,” he said.

“Through Homewards, I want to make this a reality over the next five years, and give people across the UK hope that homelessness can be prevented when we collaborate.

The ambitious scheme focuses on developing six local projects around the UK. Last month, he unveiled plans to build social homes for homeless people on his Nansledan Cornwall estate.

Prince William has been a big supporter of the Big Issue in recent years and donned a red tabard to help sell the magazine as recently as December.

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