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Newport welcomes Prince William as programme to end homelessness is launched

Credit: Homewards UK

Newport has been unveiled as one of six flagship locations across the UK that will work with the Royal Foundation’s Homewards programme to end homelessness.

The five-year locally led programme aims to demonstrate that through partnership working, it is possible to end homelessness making it rare, brief, and unrepeated.

As part of the launch, His Royal Highness Prince William visited Maindee Primary School and Hill Street.

Prince William said: “In a modern and progressive society, everyone should have a safe and secure home, be treated with dignity and given the support they need.

“Through Homewards, I want to make this a reality and over the next five years, give people across the UK hope that homelessness can be prevented when we collaborate.

“I am fortunate to have seen first-hand the tireless work of people and organisations across the sector, the tangible impact their efforts can have and what can be done when communities are able to focus on preventing homelessness, rather than managing it.

“It’s a big task, but I firmly believe that by working together it is possible to make homelessness rare, brief, and unrepeated and I am very much looking forward to working with our six locations to make our ambition a reality.”

At the school the focus was on the impact that homelessness can have on families and the important role schools can play by intervening at the earliest point to prevent homelessness. Prince William met with local children and families and spoke to staff from the school. He also met with members of the initial Homewards coalition, including Newport City Council, Barnardo’s Cymru, Pobl Group, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service.

Prince William was also welcomed to the Hill Street development, where Councillor Jane Mudd, Leader of Newport City Council and Sian Diaz, Executive Director of Development at Linc Cymru talked about the importance of partnerships in ending homelessness, particularly through housing led solutions.

Hill Street is a 100 per cent affordable housing development which provides high-quality, pleasant and secure accommodation for people who have been homeless. Residents are provided with support to live independently, to ensure they can maintain a safe tenancy and subsequently help them turn their lives around.

Prince William also chatted to tenants to hear first-hand the difference such housing and support can make.

Councillor Jane Mudd, Leader of Newport Council, said of the visit and Homewards programme: “We were honoured to welcome Prince William to our city today. We have a clear commitment in Newport to transform services and end homelessness which is already demonstrated by excellent partnership working locally.

“Focussing on prevention, not just management, and harnessing the opportunities that the Homewards programme is offering, gives us a chance to take this work to another level.

“The profile of the programme and The Royal Foundation gives opportunity to challenge narratives around housing and homelessness and provides access to support and guidance from across UK and beyond.

“An important element for Newport is about how we can attract new investment into the city to create cohesive and green communities through sustainable housing-led solutions.

“We also want to work with businesses and training providers to deliver employment and training pathways for people who have experienced homelessness.

“Homelessness is not simply a housing issue – we need partners from across all sectors to work together to deliver real change.”

Research suggests that one in five of the UK public have some experience of homelessness.

Newport facts and figures:

  • Since the pandemic Newport has seen a 114 per cent rise in demand for temporary accommodation.
  • In March 2023, there were over 450 households placed in temporary accommodation under the council’s statutory housing duties. Almost 60 per cent of these households were single adults but over the last year we have seen a 40 per cent increase in family homelessness.
  • There are currently over 9,000 people on the Common Housing Register for social housing in the city. In 21/22 there were 686 new letting of social housing of which 302 went to homeless households.
  • Newport has also consistently reported high numbers of people sleeping rough in the city with a 22/23 average of 31 individuals.

Homewards will take a transformative approach to the issue of homelessness and put collaboration at its heart, giving the six flagship locations new space, tools, and relationships to showcase what can be achieved through a collective effort focused on preventing homelessness in their areas.

At each location, Homewards will support local partners to form and grow locally led coalitions of committed individuals, organisations, and businesses who will work together to create and deliver a tailored plan to prevent homelessness in their areas – based on local needs and local expertise.

At the end of the five-year programme, the aim is for the towns and cities involved to be on a path to ending homelessness for good and to create a tried and tested model that can be scaled across the UK and beyond.

Prince William and The Royal Foundation have been developing this programme for several years, in consultation with the sector and experts from around the world. It has been inspired by success stories internationally such as Finland alongside innovative projects in the UK.