Prince William: This is a life and death fight to help the homeless during the coronavirus crisis

Robert Jobson
PA

Prince William has issued an impassioned plea for more help for rough sleepers in the “life and death” emergency during the coronavirus crisis.

The Duke of Cambridge, who praised “hero” frontline workers and volunteers for their work, said he wants to help 600 more homeless people get off the streets of London by tomorrow.

With millions of people nationwide self-isolating, including his own father Prince Charles, William urged Londoners not to forget those with no homes to go to.

The duke spoke out during a conversation with Mick Clarke, CEO of homeless charity The Passage, of which William is patron, telling him: “We are in a life and death fight to help those people living on the streets in this public health emergency.”

A homeless woman in London during the lockdown (Evening Standard / eyevine)

William, whose telephone call is listed in the Court Circular today, rang Mr Clarke to get an update on the plight of the homeless and stressed he wanted to turn the crisis into a ray of hope for the homeless.

Mr Clarke said: “We don’t want to get 80 per cent of people off the streets only to return them when this crisis is over. The duke was very keen for us to explore ways to avoid that happening.”

William, who is following government advice and self-isolating at home with his family, also thanked hotel chains that have given rooms to the homeless during the crisis.

The Duke of Cambridge (PA)

Mr Clarke said: “We had 20-minute conservation and he recognised that is a public health emergency for those who are on the streets and in shelters.

“So it was good to tell him that everyone in the voluntary sector but also local and central government is doing everything that they can to try and get people off the streets and into places of safety.

“Hotel chains have really stepped up and have offered hundreds of places for the homeless.

"The Intercontinental Group including Holiday Inn, have been great But we need more. Clean clothes for those who have been rehoused and mobile phones so we can keep in touch with.”

A homeless man in London during the lockdown (Jeremy Selwyn)

He added: “We have got to ensure there is enough staff to scale up. We have to change the model away from day centres.”

The Passage is part of the Homeless Collective group of charities helped by the Evening Standard’s campaign tackling homelessness.

William’s intervention comes after questions were raised about why Charles, 71, was tested for the virus when displaying mild symptoms when frontline health workers have not been able to get one.

Health minister Edward Argar insisted the heir to the throne had not “jumped the queue” when he was tested, telling Sky News that Charles had met the “criteria”.

Charles is said to be in good health and spirits as he recovers at his Scottish retreat Birkhall.

His wife the Duchess of Cornwall, 72, has tested negative for the virus.

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