Prince William launches homeless charity’s ‘inspirational' Peckham housing project

The Prince of Wales and Sara Cox playing fuseball at the Peckham housing development. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Prince of Wales has praised homeless charity Centrepoint’s new “inspirational” development to house 33 young homeless people in Southwark.William officially opened Reuben House, a block of 33 studio properties in Peckham, where rents are set at a third of a resident’s income, and hailed the initiative as “amazing”.

BBC Radio 2 DJ Sara Cox and actress Lisa Maxwell were among those who watched the Prince of Wales launch the project.

William hailed Centrepoint’s new Reuben House development as ‘amazing’ Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

Each 21m2 home has a small yet functional kitchen, dining area and a bathroom as well as space to sleep and relax.

One in five young people using Centrepoint’s services are ready to move on but they are unable to do so due to a shortage of affordable homes and reductions in local authority benefits.

It forms a key part of Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme to combat youth homelessness, with the charity estimating that around 15,000 16 to 24-year-olds in London, out of a total of 129,000 nationally, faced homelessness last year.

The Prince of Wales and BBC Radio 2 DJ Sara Cox at the opening of Centrepoint’s Reuben House in Peckham, south-east London Credit: PA

William, who is Centrepoint’s patron, took a look around a property and met two young people living in the block, telling some of the supporters the space felt "homely".

Centrepoint aims to build 300 properties in total in London and Manchester in the coming years to help young people escape from homelessness and allow their circumstances and careers to develop so they can move on to the next stage of their lives.

When William stood by a young sapling in a pot, which symbolised the launch, he told the guests the project was “inspirational”.

Listen to the latest Royal news listen to our podcast, The Royal Rota...

He added: “It starts to show everyone how we really can prevent homelessness and it’s a really amazing solution, practical solution, tangible solution, to how to help young people get back on their feet, to help themselves get back towards their new life.”

Earlier, in one of the flats, William chatted to a group of young people living in the block and spoke to Ruffine, a 21-year-old working in digital marketing and originally from Coventry, who was living temporarily with friends before securing a property.

She said afterwards: “It’s a good space, your own little space for a single person, and a nice place to start your life and build a foundation.”

Seyi Obakin, Centrepoint’s chief executive officer, hosted the royal visit and said afterwards he believed what was unique about the project was, no other organisation had built a similar development run on the same rental structure.

He described the project as a “…stepping stone accommodation – a bridge between supportive housing and the private rental sector – this is a bridge that currently doesn’t exist”.

William praised the scheme’s tangible results in changing young lives Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

Mr Obakin added: “I think this is a big piece of the jigsaw to help solve homelessness – the flats are self-contained, the young people absolutely love being here, and it gives them a big platform to help build their own careers.

“Yet nationally we actually don’t have the policy framework that enables this kind of thing to be built.”

The chief executive explained annual utilities were only about £200 for the young residents, who must be working or in an apprenticeship, and the small size of the homes were easier for them to look after.

He said: “A 19-year-old apprentice, who only gets paid the apprenticeship wage, would earn about £8,500 a year. They would pay a third in rent, and what it means for him is he can stay in his apprenticeship because he can afford a place to live.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…