Prince William praises pandemic help for homeless in visit to Peterborough shelter

Prince William listening to a woman talking
The Duke spoke to several people who have been housed as a result of the pandemic Credit: ITV News

Prince Willam said the prospect of more help for homeless people was one of the "slivers of positivity" of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Duke of Cambridge spoke to service users, staff and volunteers at the Light Project in Peterborough on Thursday, 16 July.

In a conversation with four formerly-homeless people who had been supported by the organisation, he suggested that long-term change might result from the lockdown.

He said: "This pandemic’s been truly horrendous for everyone, I’m really hoping that the slivers of positivity and goodness that might come out of this is in the homelessness side of things.

"You'll never have a better chance nationally to crack homelessness and do something properly."

The Duke was interested in how support services could reach more rough sleepers Credit: ITV News

Councils were required to house all their rough sleepers at the start of the lockdown in March; in Peterborough more than 130 homeless people were given accommodation.

Towards the end of June the Government committed more money to stop thousands of homeless people returning to the streets after charities had warned they could be evicted from hotels without further funds.

Read more: Norfolk council spends more than £100,000 on homeless housing

Rough sleepers and those at risk of becoming homeless are being helped to secure their own tenancies through £105 million, £85 million of which is new funding, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has said.

Prince William said there was the opportunity to "be a bit brave and a bit bold" to avoid people returning to the streets.

Prince William spoke to staff at the Light Project about their experiences during the coronavirus lockdown Credit: ITV News

The Duke has had an interest in homelessness since 2005, when the charity Centrepoint became his first Patronage.

His mother Diana, Princess of Wales, had taken him and the Duke of Sussex to meet rough sleepers from a young age.

Steven Pettican, CEO of the Light Project, praised the way the Duke interacted with the service users.

He said: "I told everybody just to be calm and to talk to him naturally, and he seemed genuinely interested in people who are sleeping on the streets, and the people that are trying to support them."

Read more: Prince William's first post-lockdown visit is to Norfolk ambulance staff 

During his conversation, the Duke focussed on what could be done to reach rough sleepers which agencies had not been able to engage with.

He asked: "How do we get to some of the harder to reach guys and girls who don’t know about support?"

The Duke has been staying at his house on the Sandringham estate during lockdown Credit: ITV News

The meeting started off on a lighter note with Gary Griffiths, who has been rehoused after spending six weeks living in a van, commenting on the Prince's weight.

The 55-year-old lead roofer said: "Excuse me Sir, have you lost weight?"

To laughter from the group William replied: "I'm worried now where you're looking at, do I look like I've lost weight? Around the jowls maybe, have I lost a bit a weight up here, around the chin? Maybe lockdown hasn't been quite so bad."

After the duke had left Mr Griffiths said William had told him about a particular morning after a boozy night before.

He said: "I said 'you need a bit of pie and mash in you, fatten you up a bit' and he said 'don't, I ate jellied eels on a hangover, after a bender' which I thought was quite good, at least he's human."

Read more: Mobile library providing meals on wheels to rough sleepers in Cambridge