Prince William makes sweet remark about wanting Kate by his side during visit to housing project in Sheffield – amid hope video of Princess looking ‘happy and relaxed’ will end weeks of speculation about her health

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Written By Maya Cantina

Prince William celebrated his wife Kate’s work with young children today as he joined a conference to help end homelessness.

The Prince of Wales agreed to selfies from well-wishers and hailed a former rough sleeper who had turned his life round as ‘brave’ for telling his story.

William, 41, joined a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting at the Millennium Gallery in the South Yorkshire city to discuss ways to end homelessness.

When the topic of childhood was raised by Sheffield City Council chief executive Kate Josephs, William immediately remarked about the success of Kate’s early years projects. Holding his palms out and smiling, he said: ‘That’s my wife’s area, she needs to be sat here.’

Earlier in the day, well-wisher Peter Brownley, 61, told him that he was a huge fan of the Royal Family and had sent the Princess of Wales a get well soon card. William replied: ‘You really are very kind.’

It comes as Kate’s recovery from surgery appears to be progressing after footage obtained by The Sun showed her and William at the Windsor Farm Shop on Saturday.

The Princess can be seen with her hair down, wearing a black jacket and leggings, chatting with her husband and looking ‘happy and relaxed’ according to an observer.

Prince William attends a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting in Sheffield today

When the topic of childhood was raised by Sheffield City Council chief executive Kate Josephs (left), William immediately remarked about the success of Kate's early years projects

When the topic of childhood was raised by Sheffield City Council chief executive Kate Josephs (left), William immediately remarked about the success of Kate’s early years projects

Leigh Stinchcombe grabs William for a selfie at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

Leigh Stinchcombe grabs William for a selfie at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales with nurse Maisy Lee after attending the meeting in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales with nurse Maisy Lee after attending the meeting in Sheffield today

William attends a Homewards Sheffield meeting at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

William attends a Homewards Sheffield meeting at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

The Prince with Homewards chief Liz Laurence at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

The Prince with Homewards chief Liz Laurence at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

Today, the Prince arrived in Sheffield city centre by car and walked through the Winter Garden – an urban glasshouse.

Princess of Wales health timeline 

  • January 17: Kensington Palace announces Kate will be in hospital for two weeks after having abdominal surgery
  • January 18: Prince William visits Kate in hospital
  • January 29: Kate leaves hospital
  • February 8: William returns to royal duties after temporarily stepping back to care for Kate
  • March 4: TMZ publishes grainy paparazzi photo of Kate with Carole Middleton
  • March 8: William takes Mother’s Day photo of Kate
  • March 10: Kensington Palace issues Mother’s Day photo
  • March 11: Kate apologies for editing Mother’s Day photo after news agencies withdraw images. Kate is later pictured in a car with William
  • March 16: Kate is spotted with William at Windsor Farm Shop
  • March 18: A video of Kate and William at the shop is published
  • April 17: Suggested date for when Kate could return to royal duties

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Leigh Stinchcombe, 33, grabbed William for a selfie and said afterwards he was a ‘big fan’ of the prince.

William held Leigh’s coffee mug and helped work the phone before patting him gently on the shoulder and shaking hands.

Sitting in the Millennium Gallery’s conference space with the coalition, William heard from project worker Chris Lynam, 41, who described how he had turned his life around after he ended up homeless then in jail seven years ago.

William said: ‘I want to say how brave you are to be here telling your story, it’s amazing where you are.’

The prince asked his aides to get Mr Lynam’s contact details so they could stay in touch.

William also asked the experts for their opinions about the extent of family homelessness in the city of Sheffield and impact of drug addiction on leading to rough sleeping.

He also discussed how early intervention can turn around lives and asked Mr Lynam to explain during his ‘journey’ the moments when people ‘stepped in’ to help.

Looking animated, William said: ‘You guys know this better than I do, but there is no one-size or one solution that fits all. I see it almost as an umbrella and all your ideas, wisdom and experiences together, and we can mix around and produce something.’

Two members of the coalition grabbed William after he left the room to bend his ear about their ideas for stopping homelessness.

Mr Lynam, who also served in the Navy and spent time in jail for crimes including arson and burglary, said afterwards: ‘He was a nice man and really listened. I liked him.’

The Prince of Wales during a visit to a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting today

The Prince of Wales during a visit to a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting today

The Prince of Wales speaks with a delegate after attending the meeting in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales speaks with a delegate after attending the meeting in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales listens during a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting today

The Prince of Wales listens during a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting today

The Prince of Wales with nurse Maisy Lee after attending the meeting in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales with nurse Maisy Lee after attending the meeting in Sheffield today

Prince William during a visit to a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting today

Prince William during a visit to a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting today

The Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

The Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

The Prince was in Sheffield this morning to unveil major commitments to his Homewards initiative, to end the scourge of homeless in the UK.

Family homeliness has been an increasing issue in recent years for the city, which was announced as one of the six flagship Homewards locations where William and his team are working to eradicate the issue within the next five years.

His approach, bringing key players in the field together – from home builders to landlords, local councils, charities to those with lived experience of the problem- was praised by Scott Black, COO of house builder Places for People, one of the country’s biggest landlords who has pledged five homes for homeless families in Sheffield.

Mr Black told him: ‘Your convening power and your vision, together with our collective resources around the table and our experience in what we do, we believe we can end homeless in Sheffield for good. Thank you for being the catalyst for that change and the opportunity for us to do our past.

‘Your Royal Highness, coming together we can do so much more. We can deliver much needed, more affordable house particularly for homeless families here in Sheffield. I am absolutely convinced it is possible.

The Prince with Homewards chief Liz Laurence at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

The Prince with Homewards chief Liz Laurence at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales during a visit to a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting today

The Prince of Wales during a visit to a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting today

The Prince of Wales speaks with a delegate after attending the meeting in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales speaks with a delegate after attending the meeting in Sheffield today

Prince William joins discussions about the impact made by Homewards in Sheffield today

Prince William joins discussions about the impact made by Homewards in Sheffield today

The Prince with Homewards chief Liz Laurence at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today

The Prince with Homewards chief Liz Laurence at the Millennium Gallery in Sheffield today 

‘And also to provide more wrap-around services that are so desperately needed so that we can break that generational cycle for the most vulnerable in society.’

‘No, thank you,’ said William. ‘I appreciate that but this has been a team effort. It’s the only way it’s going to work. This is the start of the journey, this is just the beginning. I am excited you are all sat round the table and are here.’

William’s pledge of end homeless in the UK is one of his biggest personal passions and something he had pledged his commitment to for life.

Today he unveiled a link-up with DIY giant Homebase which has pledged a major investment of £1million to support Homewards in furnishing and decorating new house in projects.

In a second major initiative, William revealed that local Sheffield landlords have committed to provide 31 homes as a start for families at risk of, or experiencing, homeless in the city.

Damian McGloughlin, chief executive of Homebase, told the Prince: ‘I personally feel very strongly our products can help here. My pledge is that we want to support [Homewards] with £1million over the next five years for starter kits for people that are going to be using them [the new housing].

The Prince of Wales is shown a poster during his trip to The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales is shown a poster during his trip to The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales visits a housing workshop at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales visits a housing workshop at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

William listens during a visit to The Learning Zone in Sheffield for a housing workshop today

William listens during a visit to The Learning Zone in Sheffield for a housing workshop today

The Prince of Wales at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today as he hears about the homeless

The Prince of Wales at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today as he hears about the homeless

The Prince of Wales visits a housing workshop at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales visits a housing workshop at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales is shown a poster during his trip to The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales is shown a poster during his trip to The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

William listens during a visit to The Learning Zone in Sheffield for a housing workshop today

William listens during a visit to The Learning Zone in Sheffield for a housing workshop today

The Prince of Wales poses with a group of people at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales poses with a group of people at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

‘Bricks and mortar is just one part of it but it’s what is inside the homes too, bringing them to life in terms of wellbeing and being a safe haven. I feel really passionate about this.

‘The more people doing this together, the more companies, the more partnerships, will really get this movement going. My team really cares about this.’

William also spoke to the executive director of Sheffield City Council, Ajman Ali, and expressed his sympathy that they, like councils up and down the country, were dealing with one crisis after another, without the opportunity to look up and plan solutions further down the line which stop people becoming homeless in the first place.

Mr Ali agreed that umbrella organisations such as Homewards would be invaluable in enabling them to do that and ensure that people did not become homeless in the first place.

The prince also asked one long-term landlord who has always been willing to work with the homeless: ‘What’s the long-term risks, why are some landlord reluctant to get along with this? What are the challenges for them?’

Vicky Keyworth, director of Letzmove, explained that the gap between rent being due and house benefit or other credits being paid can result in in gaps of four or five months in them being paid, which adds to the reluctance of renting to those in need of social housing.

The Prince of Wales visits a housing workshop at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales visits a housing workshop at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales speaks during his trip to The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales speaks during his trip to The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

William speaks during a visit to The Learning Zone in Sheffield for a housing workshop today

William speaks during a visit to The Learning Zone in Sheffield for a housing workshop today

The Prince of Wales visits a housing workshop at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales visits a housing workshop at The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales speaks during his trip to The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

The Prince of Wales speaks during his trip to The Learning Zone in Sheffield today

Steve Thavan, of Keystone Property Group, said it was the first time he had seen ‘such an amazing collection of people’ around a table trying to sort the issue together.

What is the Homewards project and where are the six UK locations? 

Prince William launched Homewards in a UK tour last June, with Buckingham Palace describing it as a ‘five-year, locally led programme which will demonstrate that by working together it is possible to end homelessness’.

Six locations identified for the project are receiving ‘new space, tools, and relationships to showcase what can be achieved through a collective effort focused on preventing and ending homelessness in their areas’.

These locations are:

  • Aberdeen
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
  • Lambeth, South London
  • Newport, South Wales
  • Northern Ireland
  • Sheffield

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William said: ‘What I’m really excited about is we can bring together so many different parts of social that can all with this issue, that maybe you don’t always get the chance to sit down together.

‘So pooling your resources , your experiences and wisdom all together can unlock many more doors and quicker. You are all working in your little worlds trying desperately to do it but don’t really have the traction you might like.’

Earlier William spoke to several people with lived experience of homelessness and those working with them.

‘What’s your experience of homelessness guys? What are your lived experiences in this area?’

He was told that there was still a lot of stigma around it, with many vulnerable clients badly needing long-term wrap-around care instead of the statutory six weeks that is so often offered.

“Yes, that’s something we hear a lot,’ the prince said. ‘That wraparound care is critical. People come from so many difficult backgrounds.

‘The needs are diverse and great. Hopefully we are starting to challenge the stigma around social housing. Things are changing.

‘Can I ask what the big challenges in Sheffield are? What do we with Homewards need to do get things off the ground in Sheffield. What key things do you want me to leave with?’

He was told that many experiencing homeless had suffered deep personal trauma that they needed support for.

“Yes, consistency in support is something that needs to be changed as well,’ William said thoughtfully. ‘I hear a lot about people having to explain their stories to a new person each time.’

March 11: Prince William and Kate are seen leaving Windsor together as they are driven in a car

March 11: Prince William and Kate are seen leaving Windsor together as they are driven in a car 

March 10: Kensington Palace released the first picture of Kate since her abdominal surgery

March 10: Kensington Palace released the first picture of Kate since her abdominal surgery

December 25, 2023: Kate was last seen with her family attending church at Sandringham

December 25, 2023: Kate was last seen with her family attending church at Sandringham 

He added: ‘You don’t see the hidden homeless of families. You see a lot of people sleeping rough, but not the other stories. We are trying to bring these other facets out.’

One of those he spoke to was influencer and campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa, 25, from Croydon, South London, who said he was ‘blown away’ by William’s determination to use his position to bring about systemic change.

Mr Tweneboa has personally experienced family homeless since the age of 12 – finding himself living in a storage container with his family at one point – and has devoted his life to highlighting the often truly horrific stories of those suffering from sub-standard social housing.

He said: ‘People up and down the country are living in slum-like conditions. There are not enough solutions – and when I spoke to William’s team I thought ‘yes, they get this’. They want to do something. Those living in poor conditions do not often have their voices heard. He hears them.

‘I have been travelling up and down the country highlighting their stories. I have visited homes riddled with damp and mould, a lady with a young child living with a cockroach infestation so bad for ten years that I left with cockroaches on me.

‘And people are ashamed and they are scared that they will not only be judge if they complain, but they may have their children taken off them.

‘William could focus on so many different issues. While he may not have experienced first-hand homelessness or living in poor conditions with cockroaches or mice, the fact that he has recognised that people living up and down the country who are and wants to put their name behind supporting solutions to these problems is really important.

‘It’s the biggest emergency that this country faces at the moment, with a huge knock-on effect on other services. He is one of the most famous people on the planet. He is absolutely to be applauded.’

Before he left William chatted at length with a group of users at The Learning Zone library area about everything from their love of Elvis to his wife.

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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