We were very honoured that His Royal Highness, Prince William The Duke of Cambridge visited a St Basils supported accommodation project in Small Heath on 29th November 2013 to learn more about Birmingham City’s landmark pledge to End Youth Homelessness.
The Duke spent the morning chatting with St Basils young residents and staff based at the project finding out more about how St Basils supports young people into employment and independent living, as well as the development of the partnership with other charities and businesses to raise awareness of this issue nationally via the ‘End Youth Homelessness’ campaign.The Duke, who is patron of ‘end youth homelessness’ member Centrepoint, heard how St Basils co-ordinated on World Homeless Day in October a ‘whole city’ sign up to the pledge to end youth homelessness.
Birmingham is the first city in the country to sign up collectively to end a problem that nationally 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 in a planned and supported fashion.
During his speech at the project the Duke praised St Basils and Birmingham on it's approach to the issue of youth homelessness. The Duke said:
"You often hear the phrase that Birmingham is Britain's second city but in my view we should be proud of the fact you are Britain's first city when it comes to care for vulnerable homeless young people".
"No-one else is doing it as well as you"
During the Visit St Basils young residents showed The Duke T-shirts they had designed to publicise the aims of the End Youth Homelessness campaign. They also presented him with an extra one they had designed which had Aston Villa's crest on it as the Duke is a well known Aston Villa fan.
During his visit the Duke spoke also spoke with young resident Reanne, aged 18.
Speaking after the event 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 and opportunities to be heard".
“It was really exciting meeting The Duke and an amazing opportunity. He was really down to earth. We chatted about the importance of education and my plans to study Criminology and Sociology at University later this year.”
Also joining the Duke on his visit were the Lord-Lieutenant of West Midlands Paul Sabapathy CBE, 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, 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”.
Photo credits: Harriet Armstrong