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Prince William launches UK homelessness initiative

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s Prince William yesterday unveiled a new United Kingdom (UK)-wide initiative aiming to show that “homelessness can be ended for good” through collaboration between public, private and voluntary sectors.

William, 41, the heir to the throne, and his charitable Royal Foundation will help give six flagship locations across Britain “space, tools, and relationships” to work on preventing homelessness locally.

Announcing the five-year programme, called Homewards, in Lambeth, south London – one of the six places selected – the prince said it will “put collaboration at the heart of the response”.

“I believe that we have a unique opportunity to develop innovative new solutions and scale tangible impact,” he told an audience at a community centre offering mental health support.

“This will inspire belief throughout the UK – and beyond – that homelessness can be ended for good.”

Prince William speaks with members during a visit to Mosaic Clubhouse in Lambeth as part of his tour of the United Kingdom to launch a project aimed at ending homelessness, in London. PHOTO: AP

Promising a “transformative approach” to the issue, William said the initiative will rely on “locally led coalitions of committed people, organisations and businesses”.

He hopes it will ultimately make homelessness “rare, brief, and unrepeated” in the targeted areas, which can then serve as models for the rest of the UK.

The initiative will provide access to an unprecedented network of “best-in-class expertise, partners and funders at a local and national level”, his Kensington Palace office said.

That includes up to GBP500,000 (USD635,000) of flexible seed funding in each location that can be accessed to support the delivery of their action plans, it added.

William, who noted he first visited a homeless shelter aged 11 with his late mother Princess Diana, launched the scheme alongside new research suggesting that one in five people in Britain have some experience of homelessness. The prince is doing a two-day nationwide tour to the six places chosen, announcing their locations as he goes.