HRH The Duke of Cambridge has been Centrepoint's Patron since 2005.
Centrepoint has always been close to the Prince's heart. As children, Princes William and Harry made private visits to Centrepoint services with their mother, the late Diana Princess of Wales, who herself was Centrepoint’s Patron.
On 13 September 2005, Prince William, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, became patron of Centrepoint - an enormous honour for Centrepoint staff and the young people we support.
Keeping Diana's work alive, Prince William plays an active role in all aspects of Centrepoint. He even helped young people directly when he spent two days volunteering in our accommodation services. Working with young people to discuss their situation, review their personal development plans, sort out their housing benefit claims and find more permanent accommodation, William used his special way of connecting with people from all backgrounds, making them feel at ease.
To mark 40 years of our charity, The Duke of Cambridge met young people and made a speech at a celebratory event in 2008. He recalled the days he visited us with his mother, Princess Diana. He said: ‘That example of selfless service that Centrepoint represents has stayed with me, and that is why it was the first charity that I wanted to be associated with.’ He also said he had witnessed, first hand, ‘the extraordinary courage of so many of Centrepoint’s young people in rising to meet such seemingly insurmountable challenges in their lives’.
To deepen his understanding of the challenges homeless young people face, in December 2009, Prince William joined Centrepoint's CEO, Seyi Obakin, to spend a night sleeping out on the streets of London in temperatures as low as minus 4C.
He said: 'I was very struck by the people I met and what they were struggling with – sleeping rough, sofa surfing, not having basic comforts a lot of us take for granted. That really struck me at a young age, bearing in mind the gulf for me, growing up in a palace, and seeing the other end of the spectrum where others were faced with huge personal challenges and were overcoming them. That was powerful to see at a young age.'
In the past ten years, Prince William has met many of our young people. Sometimes cameras are there, but often they’re not – a chance for him to talk openly about their experiences and futures. We know that he has been a great inspiration to them, and to us. One of our favourite moments was during his visit to our Camberwell service in 2011 with his wife, The Duchess of Cambridge. Prince William was snapped doing the now infamous ‘swag dance’ with young person Vanessa! He regularly meets the Centrepoint Parliament across our services, taking time to listen to their experiences and learn about what Centrepoint is doing to support them.
Prince William’s support as a dedicated and ambitious Patron has constantly challenged us to do everything we can to ensure that each young person affected by homelessness succeeds in their journey to overcome it.