Home Royal News Duke of Cambridge celebrates 50 years of Centrepoint with house opening and gala event

Duke of Cambridge celebrates 50 years of Centrepoint with house opening and gala event

by Dianne Dunn

Supporting his patronage, Centrepoint, The Duke of Cambridge attended two events today, celebrating 50 years of the homelessness charity.

Duke of Cambridge opens Apprenticeship House for Centrepoint charity (Photo courtesy of Kensington Palace)

From its humble beginnings in the basement of St. Anne’s Church, Centrepoint has grown into the UK’s premier youth homelessness charity. This worthwhile organisation was able to support over 9,000 homeless young people in the last year. With close to 400 individuals on staff throughout the country, Centrepoint has the capability to provide displaced young adults with accommodation, health support and an education in life skills to help them get their lives back on track.

The aim of the charity is to equip the disadvantaged with all of the necessary skills to get themselves back into school or training and then to gain employment. It is hoped that with employment, these once homeless young adults will be able to transition into living independently in their own dwelling.

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One programme devised by Centrepoint is Apprenticeship House. The charity has renovated a building in south London into a seven bed shared home for young adults on apprenticeship programmes. This programme is part of a wider initiative to help develop modular housing solutions in London and Manchester, to help young people who are transitioning from supported accommodation to a new place once they start working.

Prince William today had the opportunity to visit Apprenticeship House this morning and to officially open the building. He spent quite a bit of time chatting with the staff and residents of the house.

William sat down with eight young adults who are in the process of moving into the Apprenticeship House, to discuss what the challenges are that homeless individuals face every day.

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The Duke of Cambridge has a long relationship with Centrepoint, having been patron since 2005 and it is a cause very close to his heart. Not only was the Prince’s late mother, Diana, a patron to the charity but as a child, William’s mother would often bring William and his brother Harry to Centrepoint, so that they could visit many of the different services that the charity had to offer.

William has expressed that seeing the example of selfless service shown by the charity when he was a child, is what made him realise that he wanted Centrepoint to be the very first charity that he was associated with.

Prince William meets staff and residents at Centrepoint’s new Apprenticeship House (Photo courtesy of Kensington Palace)

In an effort to keep his mother’s work alive, William has not only made speeches at Centrepoint but he has done some volunteering there as well. In order to deepen his understanding of what living on the streets was like, The Duke of Cambridge spent a night sleeping out on the street in temperatures as low as -4c, with the CEO of Centrepoint, Seyi Obakin in December 2009.

Of his time on the street, William shared: “I was very struck by the people I met and what they were struggling with- sleeping rough, sofa surfing, not having basic comforts a lot of us take for granted. That really struck me at a young age, bearing in mind the gulf for me, growing up in a palace, and seeing the other end of the spectrum where others were faced with huge personal challenges and overcoming them. That was powerful to see at a young age.”

Throughout his years working with Centrepoint, Prince William has touched so many lives in countless but positive ways. Former residents look back on those memories lovingly and are quite touched that the Duke cares enough to spend time getting to really know them and wants to help better their circumstances.

For his evening event, The Duke of Cambridge attended the 50th Anniversary Gala for Centrepoint at the Roundhouse. The purpose of the gala is to not only raise funds to help combat youth homelessness but to additionally celebrate and recognise the outstanding achievements attained by a number of people supported through Centrepoint.

Prince William has set out a challenge to Centrepoint: he wants them to help end youth homelessness for good.

Greeting the Duke at the event tonight were the young adults that William had the opportunity to get to know earlier in the day at the Apprenticeship House.

Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge meets Rita Ora (centre) as he attends a gala to mark the 50th anniversary of Centrepoint in London. Picture by i-Images / Pool

For their 50th year, the charity launched a campaign back in April called #ChangeTheStory. The mission of this campaign is to help lend a voice to the thousands of homeless and displaced youth in the country and to shine a light on the key issues which affect their lives, among them, housing and the “hidden homeless” epidemic.

On hand for this cause were a number of celebrities, who gave of their time to help raise much needed funds for the charity.  There were performances by Duran Duran (a favourite of Diana’s), Rita Ora, a spoken word performance by Hussain Manawer, with hosting duties provided by James Nesbitt. The gala organisers are hoping to raise £1 million this evening to help the fight against youth homelessness.

William’s cousin, Princess Beatrice, also attended the event. The Princess got engaged this autumn, to her boyfriend, Edoardo.

Speaking from the stage, William said: “Centrepoint was one of the first charities of which I became patron, back in 2005. I chose to do that because visiting Centrepoint’s services with my mother made such a lasting impression on me as a child.”

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“It might seem an odd thing to say at a milestone event such as this, but I hope that Centrepoint will not need to be around in another 50 years.”

“It is upsetting that in 2019 we still have not managed to end youth homelessness, and more young people are being supported by Centrepoint than ever before. But it is reassuring to know that when young people are at their lowest point, Centrepoint’s team are there to help.”

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