FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday 19 January 2023
The Prince of Wales visited Depaul UK’s London hub today (Thursday 19 January 2023) to highlight the work the charity does to help young people experiencing homelessness or insecure housing, as well as prevent it occurring in the first place, both in the capital and across the UK.
Depaul UK is a homelessness charity specialising in support for young people, working to end homelessness and change the lives of those affected by it.
During the visit, His Royal Highness had the opportunity to speak with Depaul UK’s clients, past and present, to understand how their support impacts and helps with their lives.
Mike Thiedke, CEO, Depaul UK, and Executive Director of Services, Nicola Harwood were some of the staff members who got the chance to speak to the Prince of Wales about Depaul UK’s work.
Mike Thiedke, CEO Depaul UK, said:
“We know that the issue of homelessness has long been a cause that His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales is passionate about, so it was an incredible honour to show him around our London hub today and share some incredible stories about the work of the charity as well as introduce him to some of the young people we have helped.
“We discussed the work of Depaul UK and our shared belief that youth homelessness can be prevented. We spoke about our innovative approach to ending homelessness, including the creative assemblies and workshops we deliver in schools, and our Steps to Success programme which provides tailored one-to-one support to help disadvantaged young people access education, training and employment. We also spoke about the wide range of additional support we provide to young people living in our accommodation services to help them leave homelessness for good and move on into fulfilled, independent lives.”
His Royal Highness also met with some ex-Depaul UK clients today including Ruth* from London who was supported by Depaul’s London Youth Hub and Steps to Success, before moving to Depaul’s Peer Housing scheme.
Ruth is now studying for a DPhil at the University of Oxford researching Black British Postgraduate Experiences. She said:
“Meeting His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, for the first time today was lovely, he was really engaging, and listened intently as I shared my story, and how Depaul helped me. I’m currently studying for a DPhil at the University of Oxford, but a few years ago, I found myself sleeping rough on the streets, which was a real low point as my life literally went from one extreme to another. I had never felt or been more vulnerable.
“One day I was at university enjoying life, and the next I was in a new City, back from university but left with nowhere to stay. I spent a couple of nights on the streets, and it felt so unsafe. I wandered around aimlessly during the day, and it was so lonely. When you’re in a situation like that, you begin to question yourself. I was asking myself what the point of life was, it was so cold and so dark, and I felt hopeless.
“What made it worse is that it was December, everyone on the street seemed to be excited for Christmas and it took me back to the time when I was sharing this precious time with my own family. Eventually, I was referred to Depaul UK who not only helped me in the short-term, with emergency accommodation, but have supported me in other ways too, which has helped me get to where I am today – I can’t thank them enough.”
His Royal Highness also spoke with Finn* who lives in London, who was supported by Depaul’s London Youth Hub. Finn works as a baker, and is now living independently. He is part of the Changing Futures Initiative with Westminster Council to improve services for people with multiple disadvantages. Speaking about the visit, he said:
“Today was really special and one I’ll never forget. His Royal Highness was interested in the ways I’m currently involved in helping young people vulnerable to homelessness. I was also able to share some details about my own story, about how I rent privately now, but it wasn’t always this way.
“I had wanted to move to London for a while and liked the idea of the opportunities the City could provide. I connected with some people in London, and someone had offered me a place to stay. It sounded like a good deal at the time, but things didn’t quite go to plan, and I soon realised how unstable the environment was, so I needed to get out. I found somewhere else, but the person I was renting from messed me about, and didn’t keep up with the house repayments.
“By that point, my mental and physical health was deteriorating as I was so worried about my living situation. Even though I’ve always worked, my job couldn’t support me, although it was enough to keep me off the streets. Instead, I started sleeping in backpackers hostels, until I was referred to Depaul’s London Youth Hub. It was there I felt safe for the first time in a long time. I had my own room, and bathroom and was able to reset and get myself sorted with more permanent and affordable accommodation. This was the big turning point for me, it was a breathing space from all the stress, and I could think clearly for the first time in ages as I was more relaxed, and felt safe. The support I received from the charity was incredible, they helped me feel like myself again.”
For more information about youth homelessness or to support Depaul UK please visit www.depaul.org.uk
Notes to Editors:
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Photographs of today’s event are available via the usual news wire services – please contact Kensington Palace press office with any specific photograph enquiries, or requests.
About Depaul UK