Duke of Cambridge visits Birmingham youth homelessness service

Royal seal of approval for city pledge on homelessness. 

His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge today visited a service for homeless young people in Birmingham to learn more about the City’s  landmark pledge to end youth homelessness.

The service based in Small Heath, Birmingham is run by charity St Basils, one of the largest providers in the West Midlands of services specifically for young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, last year providing advice and prevention services as well as accommodation and support to a grand total of 5114 young people.

The Duke spent the morning talking with young residents and staff based at the project finding out more about how the charity supports young people into employment and independent living  and their involvement with other charities and businesses in the ‘End Youth Homelessness’ campaign. The Duke, who is patron of ‘end youth homelessness’ member Centrepoint, heard how St Basils co-ordinated on last month’s World Homeless Day a ‘whole city’ sign up to the pledge to end youth homelessness.

Birmingham is the first city in the country to sign up to end a problem that affects 80,000 young people. The Duke heard how organisations ranging from the City Council and local hospitals to housing associations and religious groups were coming together to support young people to deal with their health problems, gain new skills and move on to independent living

During his visit the Duke spoke with Reanne, aged 18. She said: “I was referred to St Basils by Social Services. It’s been so much better here than I thought it would be. They’ve supported me on absolutely everything and I never realised St Basils was so big on getting young people involved and giving young people a voice. I like to have lots to do so I have got involved with all the opportunities that staff have offered to me. I am part of St Basils Youth Advisory Board, I’m involved in the Youth Homeless Parliament and I co-hosted St Basils Awards ceremony recently for young people graduating the Life Skills programme.

I’ve got lots of plans for the future, I’ve known what I wanted to do since I was 10! I’m interested in Business and Law. I’ve done my A-levels including Sociology and I’ve applied to University to study Sociology and Criminology and then I want to go on further to be a Solicitor to give myself more options” It was really exciting meeting Prince William and an amazing opportunity as well.”

Also joining the Duke on his visit were the Deputy Lieutenant of West Midlands Mrs Jenny Loynton, High Sheriff of West Midlands Dame Christine Braddock, Birmingham’s Lord Mayor Cllr Mike Leddy, and Centrepoint chief executive Seyi Obakin.

Commenting after the visit Jean Templeton, Chief Executive of St Basils, said: “We are honoured that His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge took the time today to visit St Basils and talk with our young people. We are particularly proud that Birmingham is the first city to commit to a collective approach to End Youth Homelessness and that this was recognised and commended by the Duke of Cambridge. As homelessness in general increases, it is important that we don’t become desensitised to the experiences of young people who, by definition, will be vulnerable and have limited experience in dealing with the trauma of homelessness.  The call to action within the End Youth Homelessness campaign is for us all to recognise the part we can play in making sure homelessness is not part of growing up”.

Centrepoint chief executive Seyi Obakin added: “Through the End Youth Homelessness campaign charities and businesses are working together to highlight and breakdown the many barriers that homeless young people face in finding work and a place to live independently. We are so pleased that the Duke of Cambridge continues to take such an active interest in a problem which affects 80,000 young people across the country.”