Prince William is launching a UK-wide project which aims to end homelessness.
The five-year programme, called Homewards, will work in six towns and cities, bringing together organisations and individuals to find local solutions to homelessness.
The Prince of Wales admits “it’s a big task” and will visit each location over the next two days to highlight how he hopes to achieve his ambition.
Every night, 300,000 people in the UK experience homelessness, half of whom are children.
The reasons remain complex as do the solutions, but Prince William wants to prove that collaboration at a local level can make homelessness “rare, brief, and unrepeated,” citing Finland as proof it can be done.
It is his first major initiative since he became Prince of Wales last year, and one which pushes his political neutrality to its limit.
Homewards will be run by his Royal Foundation with the support of high-profile people who will help with the work. They include Sabrina Hatton-Cohen, one of the UK’s most senior fire officers.
Sabrina was homeless and sleeping rough as a teenager.
She met Prince William at Windsor Castle last week and afterwards told Sky News: “I’ve been really impressed by the prince’s personal investment and the way he’s acknowledged the human side of homelessness, and the way he wants to take a person-centric approach.”
Prince William was just 11 years old when Diana took him and Prince Harry to the charity The Passage.
He is now also one of the UK’s biggest landlords. But Sabrina says he understands the issues.
“It’s not just about giving somebody a house,” she said. “This is about the rest of the challenges that come with surviving homelessness, and what we can do to make sure that people have the best chance of not just surviving but thriving afterwards.”
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Although Homewards focusses on six locations, it’s hoped the findings can be used to create a framework for other areas in the UK.
Prince William said: “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.
“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.”
But some say this is an issue for politicians, not princes.
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.”