In honour of their 40 year milestone The Duke of Cambridge visited his patronage, The Passage, in London on Wednesday, to attend their inaugural awards. Initially scheduled to take place last year, the awards ceremony and reception were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Established in 1980, The Passage provides life changing and transformative work for the homeless. It aims to bring about an end to homelessness through partnerships with agencies that help provide safe housing, training and eventually employment. Over their 40 year history, the charity has helped over 135,000 individuals in crisis through homeless prevention projects, its resource centre as well as their innovative accommodation services.
As of today, The Passage now runs the largest Resource Centre in the UK and directs the homelessness prevention services project, street outreach and health services as well as the award-winning Modern Slavery project and residential and resettlement projects.
To mark the occasion, Prince William spoke at the inaugural awards ceremony for the organisation which recognises the exceptional achievements of the charity’s clients, staff and volunteers and attended the reception afterwards. The reception offered William the chance to discuss with the staff and volunteers about their experiences serving the community, especially during this past year.
The Passage homeless charity holds a dear place in William’s heart as he first visited with his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, when he was a small child. The Queen’s grandson shared that it was his early visits with his mother and younger brother, The Duke of Sussex, that initiated his ‘great affection’ for the workers of the charity.
Since his initial visit in 1993, William has made it a point to visit many times in both official and unofficial capacities. Just last year, he quietly visited the charity a few times during the Christmas season to help sort supplies and chat with the volunteers.
During his speech at the anniversary celebration, the Duke expressed: “I find it particularly inspiring to meet former clients who were helped by The Passage’s wonderful staff and volunteers in their time of need, and who have come back to help others now that they are doing much better themselves.
“The last 18 months of the pandemic have shown us how much we rely on each other to get by – and just how strong our communities can be when we work together to get things done.”
— Tom Holland (@holland_tom) September 30, 2021
One such individual is Colin Chilman. who was presented with the Outstanding Achievement award by the Royal. Mr. Chilman is a recovered alcoholic who was actually at the charity when Diana used to bring her sons.
With the charity’s support for over 35 years, Colin was able to go from being unable to perform new tasks, visit new places or even take public transport without being reduced to suffering from extreme anxiety as well as panic attacks to being able to take part in a joint initiative between The Passage and The Goring Hotel called Hotel School and he graduated. Once Colin was able to accept the help he needed, he transformed his life. He now works as a kitchen porter in a London restaurant and supports himself in his own apartment.
Mr. Chilman reminisced: “I remember seeing Diana many years ago and she was with her boys. They were so young. I also met William several years ago but I had a long beard. I’m well happy to win this. And extra special to get it from William. I just did what I did. From being an alcoholic I quit all that, I went through a bad time and am thankful for what has happened.”
After receiving his award, The Duke of Cambridge told the winner: “Colin, what a journey. Well done I am so pleased it’s going well.”
Sadly, due to the devastating coronavirus epidemic, the demand for services provided by The Passage has increased exponentially. It has led to a new initiative called ‘Everyone In’. Since March 2020, the charity has been a part of helping people off of the street and into hotel accommodation, which was empty due to the pandemic. This led to the implementation of an emergency food hub which not only cooked but delivered over 350 hot meals daily to individuals who could not access any food. Over 94,000 meals have been supplied by volunteers working seven days a week.