Prince William made a quick turnaround from the glamour of the red carpet to the gritty reality of homelessness.
On Monday the prince — who joined some of Hollywood’s biggest stars (along with wife Princess Kate!) at the annual BAFTA film awards in London on Sunday — visited one of his key charities, Centrepoint, where he participated in a training exercise for the charity’s new helpline.
The royal dad, 34, listened in as staffer Carys Lewis took a phone call from a teenager who had been robbed twice while sleeping on the streets. The youth had been thrown out of home after an argument with his parents.
William, who listened carefully Lewis went through the options for the teen, including going to a night shelter as a first step, told her afterward, “Will you let me know how he gets on? I would like to know.”
Lewis said she met William about 10 years ago when he quietly spent a couple of days at a shelter in central London.
“He met all the young people staying in the night shelter, listening to their stories, helping out with the breakfast and things,” Lewis told reporters. “All the young people loved that.”
Centrepoint has partnered with a mental health charity for young people, The Mix, to provide support for those who are either homeless or are at risk of homelessness. The Mix is among the mental health charities that are part of the Heads Together campaign that William, Kate and Prince Harry are spearheading.
Centrepoint hopes the new helpline will ensure that even more youths between ages 16 and 25 are given the right advice and support to turn their lives around. Centrepoint’s research suggests a third of the 150,000 young people who approach their local authorities for help with housing are turned away without any meaningful support.
Seyi Obakin, the chief executive of Centrepoint, today reporters, “Today is an important day for all young people, not just those that are homeless. Homelessness is not that far away. It can happen to anyone. What the helpline is going to do is give them a lifeline.”
“Intervening early and decisively by providing the right support for those in crisis can end youth homelessness. Today, with the launch of the Centrepoint Helpline, we take the first step towards realising our ambitious goal to end youth homelessness before it has even begun.”
Centrepoint was William’s first patronage, which he adopted as he begun his public life in 2005. He followed in the path of his late mother Princess Diana, who not only supported the charity but quietly took William and Harry to meet homeless people at the charity’s hostels in London.