Prince William mobbed by children during visit to Sheffield as part of new homeless initiative

Prince William was visiting Sheffield as one of six locations his new initiative is focussing on. Credit: PA

Prince William has been mobbed by children during a visit to a charity as part of his new initiative to end homelessness.

The heir to the throne was visiting the Reach Up Youth project in the Burngreave area of Sheffield - one of the most underprivileged in the city.

The visit was part of his new initiative called Homewards, which he launched on Monday, aiming to tackle homelessness in all its forms.

The Prince says he was inspired to try and address the problem following visits to homeless charities as a child, which his mother, Princess Diana, would take him on.

“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," he said at Monday's launch in Lambeth, London.

“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.”

The Prince played basketball with some of the children from the Reach up Youth project in Sheffield. Credit: PA

The rate of homelessness is growing among young people in Sheffield. The most common cause is family breakdown, but Jonny Edwards from one of the city's homeless charities, Roundabout says the problem is particularly difficult at the moment due to the high cost of living.

"The rise in rent costs is a challenge," he said.

"We used to support a lot of young people in to private accommodation. Most of the time that's not affordable for people anymore because over the last few years [the cost] has risen in a huge way.

"It's just more difficult for them to find themselves in the situation of being homeless than it has been before."

One volunteer at the charity, Brittany Jackson, was homeless between the ages of 16 and 19.

"I really struggled to connect with my mom. So that's what my homelessness is. But a lot of it is just a lack of communication between the parents and the children and the breakdown in the relationship," she said.

Brittany became homeless because of issues with her mum, and now volunteers at Roundabout. Credit: ITV News

However, she's confident that the situation can be resolved with the right approach.

"Obviously there's still going to be people that choose or are willing to be homeless and choose to be homeless, due to the life," she said.

"But I definitely think that homelessness can be can be solved."

Tim Renshaw, CEO of the Archer Project, another of Sheffield's homeless charities, says the problems facing those who sleep rough are much more widespread than in the rest of society.

"Eighty-two per cent of people have a mental health diagnosis versus 12% of the general population," said Tim. "Sixty-three per cent of people on the street have a long term illness compared to 22% of the population.

"We've got 52% of people on the street with criminal convictions, and if we trace that all the way back then we know around 8% of people on the street come from childhood or traumas or PTSD at some point in their lives."

Lee Calvert previously served in the armed forces, but is currently sleeping rough. Credit: ITV News

"In my personal situation, I used to be in the armed forces and I've been on the streets for a while and it's affected my mental health," said Lee Calvert, who currently sleeps on the streets of Sheffield.

"When you get on the streets, you get a sense of freedom, you get a sense that there's no responsibility, so you get comfortable with it.

"That's not the right situation to be in for anybody in life.

"What helps the most is a conversation. The feeling that you're human still.  It's forgotten people in society. And there's a vast need for that to be put right."

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