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Prince William believes homelessness ‘can be ended’ as he marks anniversary of project to eradicate it

Prince William will visit the London Borough of Lambeth where, 12 months ago, he launched the five-year initiative aiming to tackle all forms of homelessness and change perceptions about what rough sleeping really means in 2024.

The project has seen Homewards teams set up in six UK locations and has already built links and sparked conversations between the public, private and third sectors that have never happened before.

In a speech in Lambeth, one of Homewards’ six locations, William is expected to say: “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 is now chief fire officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, but experienced homelessness as a teenager.

As an official Homewards advocate she’s been working alongside the Prince and seen what a personal difference he’s been able to make.

She told Sky News: “One of the powers that the prince has is to bring people round a table, to convene people who wouldn’t ordinarily come together, and I’ve really seen the impact that can have already.

“And I think just talking about homelessness in this way helps to reduce the stigma, it’s changing the narrative.”

She added: “Having experienced homelessness myself, one of the most difficult things was recovering from homelessness, and I didn’t talk about my experience for more than 20 years because of the stigma.

“I’m already seeing that narrative changing because of Homewards and that for me is incredibly powerful.”

Mark Downie, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, a Homewards sector partner, told Sky News the increasing numbers show it can’t be ignored but there can be hope.

“We are facing some really, really tough times,” he said. “Homelessness is going up but actually, the evidence to end homelessness has never been better.”

The Royal Family aren’t meant to involve themselves in topics that can be seen as political, but Mr Downie says the growing consensus on homelessness helps avoid a clash for William.

“In my experience there are no politicians who think homelessness should exist,” he said.

“In fact, there’s a consensus that action needs to be taken, that we need far more homes, far more social homes, all of that to me is non-political, and there’s an evidence base of how to do this which is non-political as well.

“I don’t know how the royal household and Royal Family navigate their political lines but I would say, if there’s a rivalry here, it should be a rivalry of ambition about how to end homelessness and that’s a non-political thing.”

Read more:
William gives nod to Kate’s work at homelessness project visit
William’s project to eradicate to be focus of new documentary

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

It follows the ethos that not all solutions will work in all areas and encourages a targeted approach to address specific local needs.

The second year will see each location publish action plans, from targeting families and young people in Sheffield to helping people living in care and women in Northern Ireland.

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