Last week, The Princess of Wales visited Streets of Growth in Aldgate, London. The not-for-profit youth intervention charity is working to transform the lives of young people at risk of becoming trapped in a cycle of isolation, exploitation, violence and criminality.
The visit comes as the latest engagement with a focus on supporting young people, a key theme of Catherine’s royal work.
Streets of Growth specialises in targeted outreach and intervention to re-engage young people aged 15-25, taking an approach that balances organisation-led and community-led engagement.
Inspired by a research visit to see the work of Roca in Boston (which the Prince and Princess visited during their visit to Boston in 2022), the organisation was established in 2001.
The Princess was greeted by Streets of Growth founder Darren Way and spoke of her admiration for large communal spaces and ‘places where everyone can come together to be creative – it’s really precious’.
She then spoke to workers from the charity about whether a stigma still existed around mental health, and the needs of young people today.
Catherine told the workers of the charity: ‘Young people get judged on their external behaviour but you have to understand their backstory. They haven’t probably seen trusting relationships in their lives so that’s so important. I love the fact you’re going out into communities, kids are so isolated, they’re at home with these huge struggles.’
Through her work on early childhood, the mother-of-three highlighted she wanted to ‘connect the dots’ on how a stable and safe upbringing can prevent crises later in life.
Catherine then met two sets of mothers and daughters who spoke about the support they have received from the organisation
The families also showed HRH the jewellery and footwear designs which had been made possible through Streets of Growth’s creative workshops. The Royal went on to describe the pieces as ‘really beautiful’ and ‘so creative’.
‘What’s so fantastic is there’s an organisation in the community that works with a whole family in this way. It’s tools and skills and being able to express yourself,’ Kate commented. ‘All these things are what so many people like this and the country need. It’s also meeting families and young people before they get to crisis point and there’s a huge amount of intervention that can be done.’
Her Royal Highness then joined three young people engaged in a mental health session in the form of a podcast, with topics including social media and body image under discussion.
Speaking after the visit, Mr Way said: ‘This is a very unusual approach to mental health by taking talks to the street. We’re going out to gangs and non-gangs (and) we go in your house to help young people escape domestic violence. When you get an organisation like us that was founded with £10 and two chairs… to 22 years later Her Royal Highness recognising our work, the sky’s the limit now – it’s game on.’