Princess of Wales praises Southampton centre offering women and their children prison alternative

  • ITV Meridian's Sarah Gomme reports from Southampton

The Princess of Wales has officially opened an "inspirational" family-friendly residential centre designed to provide a safe environment for women and their children as they go through the courts.

The Hope Street Centre in Southampton, Hampshire, has been developed by the One Small Thing Charity.

It provides an alternative to prison for women which allows them to remain with their children and to receive ongoing support.

Kate was given a tour of the facility, which is the first of its kind in the country.

The Princess of Wales is presented with some flowers outside the centre in Southampton. Credit: ITV Meridian

She also had a chance to meet staff and supporters of the pilot project as well as chat with women who have had experience of the system.

The centre has been designed "by and for women" to create a "welcoming home environment, designed with light-filled communal as well as private spaces" along with a 24-hour hub, onsite creche and play areas for children.

Speaking to users of the centre, Kate said: "This is such an inspirational place."

Kate placed a hand-written message of support on a tree in the centre's courtyard. Credit: ITV Meridian

Kate also placed a hand-written message of support on a tree in the centre's courtyard which said: "I see you and I am with you.

"Good luck in all that lies ahead. Catherine."

The princess was escorted around Hope Street by prison philanthropist and founder and chairwoman of One Small Thing, Lady Edwina Grosvenor.

She said: "There is a different way that we can deal with women and children in the justice system in this country. I wanted to build something and prove that we could do it differently by actually building it."

One Small Thing is being independently monitored by the University of Southampton, the Prison Reform Trust and justice consultancy EP:IC.

The scheme provides a community alternative for women who would otherwise be imprisoned unnecessarily because of a lack of safe accommodation or concerns about their wellbeing.

  • Kate met Lilly Lewis who was separated from her children through imprisonment.

Kate met mothers who have been through the justice system.

Kate's visit comes as part her drive to raise awareness of the importance of early years for children which has seen her help launch the long-term campaign Shaping US with the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

While the Princess of Wales was in Hampshire, her in-laws were in neighbouring Dorset.

King Charles III meets employees and clients of the spa during a visit to the Duchy of Cornwall's Poundbury development in Dorset. Credit: PA

The King alongside the Queen Consort made his first official visit as monarch to the eco-village he helped create - Poundbury.

They surprised a group of people in bathrobes enjoying a spa day during their visit.

Charles and Camilla shook hands with them outside the Monart Spa as the royal couple greeted many of the hundreds of well-wishers who had gathered to see them.

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