Longhurst Group’s work on homelessness welcomed by Prince William

Longhurst Group’s work to tackle homelessness in Peterborough has been welcomed by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.

We were proud to be represented at a meeting with the Duke last week, as part of our involvement with the Safer Off the Streets programme.

The initiative brings together organisations from voluntary, faith, community and public service agencies to help those sleeping rough on the city’s streets.

The Prince met with former rough sleepers who have been helped by the programme, as well as representatives from partner organisations, including Fay Hirel, our Head of Service for Cambridgeshire Support.

She said: “It was lovely to meet and talk with him. He was really interested in our work and he asked a lot of questions – and then follow-up questions – so you really got a sense of how engaged he is with the issue of homelessness, which was brilliant to hear.”

Throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, colleagues from our homeless schemes had been helping to staff a hotel in the city to accommodate rough sleepers.

Prince William

Over the last few weeks, we’ve since helped 28 people who had been staying at the hotel to move into The New Haven - our 12-week short stay direct access hostel.

Of those, eight people have been successfully moved into private rented accommodation and three have moved into sheltered housing and been given a tenancy. A further seven people have moved into Fair View Court – our two-year stay hostel.

 “It was a fantastic opportunity to tell him about the work that we’ve been doing to support homeless individuals, as part of Safer Off The Streets, during the pandemic,” Fay added.

“When his team asked where they should visit to see great work that was being done to help people off the streets, they were recommended to come to Peterborough, which is a real honour for us.

“I explained to him about our Floating Support Team and how they deliver ongoing support people to stop the revolving door of homelessness by helping people to maintain their tenancies and he was really interested in that and really keen to support us.

“During our chat, he was very clear that, nationally, he didn’t want things to go back to how they were before Coronavirus when it comes to homelessness. It’s taken a pandemic to bring the issue higher up the agenda and help more people off the streets and he doesn’t want them to go back and have to sleep rough. He was really passionate about that.

Prince William

 “It was a huge honour for me to represent all of our brilliant team members, who do the work on the ground to help people off the streets. To be the one chosen to represent them and to be able to talk to him about the great work that they do was probably the proudest moment of my career.

“Before he spoke with me, he was talking with a couple of gentlemen who we’ve helped off the streets and are now living in sheltered accommodation, with their own tenancies. It was really good to hear them telling Prince William how we’d helped them and what it means for them to now have long-term accommodation with Longhurst Group.

“Overall, it was just lovely to be recognised for what we’ve done, not just as a Group, but also all the agencies and all the volunteers too. It was really, really special.”

For more information on involvement with the Safer Off The Streets programme, click here.

Prince William

(Images: Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Wire.)

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