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Duke's visit is a right royal boost for young homeless
Updated 8:30pm Thursday 5th June 2014 in News
The Duke of Cambridge brought “smiles to the faces” of a group of young people supported by a Bradford homeless charity during a visit to the city yesterday.
HRH Prince William was given a warm welcome at Centrepoint, a youth homelessness charity with a base at the Bradford Foyer in West Bowling.
The future monarch mingled with staff and dignitaries before playing an active role in workshops with the young people who receive support from the charity, which has been working in Bradford since November last year.
Becky Tray, 20, who has lived at the Foyer since September after leaving the army, showed the Duke the filming techniques she had learnt in video skills sessions, designed to help with possible future careers in the media industry.
“I was showing him how to work the cameras, zooming in and out and how to focus, and he seemed interested in what we were doing,” she said.
“I think he enjoyed being this side of the camera for once!
“It was a great experience and not one I’ll probably ever have again. I was nervous meeting him, but he was really laid back.
“Getting involved with the charity has made me a lot more independent, without their support, I’d still be down in the dumps.”
The Duke, who has been a Royal patron of the charity since December 2005, also got involved in a session on interview technique, where a group of young people based at the Foyer were honing skills to boost their job prospects.
“They are crucial skills to learn, as not many people are born with really good interview technique,” he told the group, adding that they should try to remain calm and confident in such situations.
In between listening to the group sharing their good and bad experiences at interviews, the Duke also found time to speak about fatherhood with Joe Rider, 22, after finding out he had a boy of a similar age to his own 10-month-old son, Prince George.
“You don’t meet a Prince every day, so I was nervous, but excited at the same time,” said Mr Rider, a print finisher who has been at the Foyer for the last two months, being supported by the charity to help find a home of his own.
“I was surprised at how relaxed he was, we talked about his little boy as he is a similar age to mine.
“We just chatted about how great it is to be a dad.”
Centrepoint is the UK’s leading charity for homeless young people, supporting more than 6,000 16 to 25-year-olds into housing and employment every year.
It began working across the Bradford district on November 1 last year, developing a pathway for young people deemed at risk of homelessness to access a job and a home, in partnership with Bradford Council and other local providers.
The charity can cater for up to 328 young people at any one time, and is currently working with approximately 300 people in Bradford, with around 100 housed in short-term accommodation at the Foyer and another 200 accessing some form of floating support.
Martin Gill, Centrepoint’s Head of Housing and Support, said the Duke’s visit was a great boost to the charity so soon after it began working in the district.
“You’ve only got to look at the smiles on the young people’s faces to see that all the hard work organising today was worthwhile,” he said.
“There is a focus on youth employment in the Bradford district, as well as other issues that young people have, such as drug and alcohol problems, so we are really trying to help with that.
“As a Patron, the Duke genuinely believes in what the charity does and it’s great for the young people to see that someone with his profile cares what happens to them.
“They can see that he is interested in them and that gives them something to aspire to.
“His awareness really raises the profile of the work we do.”
The Duke was greeted by hundreds of schoolchildren waving Union Jack flags and chanting his name as he arrived at the Foyer just before 1pm yesterday.
Many of them were pupils at nearby Newby Primary School, whose headteacher Janice Stephenson said: “The children had a special session this morning to learn about the Prince and the monarchy, and they are all very excited to show off how proud we are to be part of Bradford and West Bowling.”
The future monarch also paid a brief visit to Bradford Grammar School to meet staff and pupils before leaving the district via helicopter.
A school spokesman said: “We were lucky enough to receive a visit from Prince William. Pupils and staff were very excited and shook his hand before his departure from Bradford.”
Earlier in the day, The Duke revealed a liking for Coldplay when he met children at a school in East Yorkshire.
Prince William spent more than an hour at Goole High School where he told flag-waving pupils: “I’m so sorry I didn’t bring better weather with me.”
As he chatted to members of the school’s samba band, one of them asked him what music he liked and the Duke was heard to reply: “I really like Coldplay, Linkin Park.”
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