Duke of Cambridge praises Centrepoint on its 50th anniversary

By Joe Gammie, PA

The Duke of Cambridge has said it is “upsetting” that youth homelessness has not been eradicated but praised a charity for its work over the last five decades.

William was speaking at the Centrepoint 50th Anniversary Gala, where there were performances by Duran Duran and Rita Ora.

The duke, who was wearing a dark green dinner jacket and black bow tie, told attendees at the Roundhouse in north-west London on Wednesday evening that he had been inspired to support the charity by his mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Duke of Cambridge greets Rita Ora at the gala (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“Centrepoint was one of the first charities of which I became patron,” he said.

“I chose to do that because visiting Centrepoint services with my mother made such a lasting impression on me as a child and it still makes a lasting impression on me today.”

William told guests he hoped the charity would not be needed in another 50 years.

He added: “It’s upsetting that in 2019 we still have not managed to end youth homelessness and more young people are being supported by Centrepoint than ever before.”

The gala aimed to promote the achievements of people supported by Centrepoint, highlight the issues they face and encourage supporters to help change the story for homeless young people, the charity said.

The duke has been the patron of the charity – which began in the basement of St Anne’s Church in Soho, central London, in 1969 – since 2005.

William (second left) meets members of Duran Duran (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Before his speech, William met Centrepoint staff, people supported by the charity and celebrity guests including Rita Ora, Duran Duran and Strictly Come Dancing’s Claudia Winkleman and Shirley Ballas.

Ora told the duke she loved his suit while presenter Claudia Winkleman said she was “too creaky” when he asked her why she did not to dance in the show.

Strictly judge Shirley Ballas, who said Centrepoint was close to her heart, added the duke told her that his wife Kate ”loved” the show and his mother-in-law was also a fan.

Before the gala, William met a group of young people who told him how their lives have been transformed by the charity.

William officially opened Centrepoint’s new accommodation for apprentices – Apprenticeship House – in south London after sitting down for a chat with some of its residents.

The building has been transformed by the charity into a seven-bedroom shared home for young people on apprenticeship programmes, and aims to support them in their journey to independent living.

The duke also unveiled a plaque to celebrate the charity’s first house provided for young people in combination with apprentice schemes.

Centrepoint supports around 15,000 homeless young people a year, offering them accommodation, health support and life skills to get them back into education, training and employment.