By His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales
The economic downturn has had a devastating effect on the numbers of homeless rough sleepers in our communities. In London alone, rough sleeping has risen by almost a quarter in just two years, and that figure does not even include those who have been forced out of their homes into temporary accommodation or overcrowded housing.
There are many reasons why someone can find themselves homeless: family breakdown, unemployment, drug or alcohol abuse, or falling on desperately hard times, often through no fault of their own. But the effect of homelessness is the same for everyone: a crushing sense of hopelessness and despair. The emotional consequences for the individual can be utterly devastating – sometimes more so than the stark fact of being homeless.
Charities, churches, governments and other bodies can all help with the basics – a roof under which to shelter from the elements, heating and security – but without hope, an individual cannot rebuild a life. And for there to be people with no hope living right alongside us is surely a blight on our societies.
That is why the work of the restorers of hope – street newspapers, my own charity Centrepoint and other organisations and individuals who care – so inspire me. They give homeless people the tools with which to rebuild their confidence and, ultimately, their lives.
I have met many homeless young people who are now filled with a passion and desire to achieve in life, simply because they were given a little support at the right time to get back on their feet. These are people of extraordinary courage. There can be a perception that they have given up and lack courage. Let me tell you, they have not and they do not. I count myself enormously privileged to be associated with such individuals. I salute all the organisations that are there for them.