Prince William launches five-year campaign to end homelessness in the UK

26 June 2023, 08:18

William has launched his campaign to tackle homelessness
William has launched his campaign to tackle homelessness. Picture: Twitter

By Emma Soteriou

Prince William will tour the UK to launch his five-year project aimed at ending homelessness.

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William has set his sights on making rough sleeping, sofa surfing and other forms of temporary accommodation a thing of the past.

His five-year project called Homewards will initially focus on six locations, which will be announced during Monday and Tuesday.

Local businesses, organisations and individuals will be encouraged to join forces and develop "bespoke" action plans to tackle homelessness with up to £500,000 in funding.

It comes in a bid to emulate Finland, where the problem has been virtually eradicated.

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The future king, who was first taken to a homeless charity by his mother, Diana, 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 will begin a two-day tour of the UK to launch his project on Monday starting in London.

"I am fortunate to have seen first-hand the tireless work of people and organisations across the sector, the tangible impact their efforts can have and what can be done when communities are able to focus on preventing homelessness, rather than managing it," he went on to say.

"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."

Homes will be a focus of the programme, with each location supported to deliver an innovative housing project that will test new ways to unlock homes at scale within the location and beyond.

The six chosen areas, which includes one in London, were selected after a bidding process and the findings and results of the initiative will be used to create models that can adopted by other parts of the UK.

There are around 300,000 people experiencing homelessness across the UK on any given night according to Matt Downie, chief executive of the charity Crisis, one of a number of homelessness partner organisations of Homewards.

A new Ipsos survey - commissioned by William's Royal Foundation - found that one in five of 3,473 adults questioned in May have some personal experience of homelessness either directly or via family or friends.

The research found 72% of those questioned thought homelessness had got worse during the past 12 months, while 73% believed that ending homelessness was not given enough attention by society.

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William, who is a patron of the homelessness charities Centrepoint and The Passage, previously described his project as "an additive to what is already being done" in a Sunday Times interview.

But Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, criticised the plans and called on him to "directly" challenge the Government for, it claimed, causing homelessness.

Graham Smith, Republic's chief executive officer, said: "Homelessness is the result of government policy and lack of investment, it isn't something that can be resolved by charity or royal patronage."

He highlighted the prince's three homes, Adelaide Cottage, a four-bedroom property in Windsor Castle's Home Park, Kensington Palace's 20-room Apartment 1A and Anmer Hall, a mansion on the King's private Sandringham estate in Norfolk.

Mr Smith said: "It is also, in part, the result of economic inequality, something represented by the super-rich royals who live in multiple palatial homes."