Published 19 November 2015

The impact of homelesseness is not temporary.

The Duke of Cambridge

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

It is always a great pleasure to have the opportunity to talk to you as Patron of Centrepoint.  I am especially grateful to be here today and involved in the charity's inaugural Awards ceremony.

Ten years ago, Centrepoint was one of the first charities that I officially became associated with. During that time I have seen the charity adapt to the challenges of tackling youth homelessness with continued optimism and enthusiasm.

The stories we will hear this evening are a testament to why I am so proud to be associated with this remarkable organisation.

As we have just heard, some young people can find themselves denied the most basic of comforts, such as a safe place to sleep; a guaranteed source of food; or simply someone to turn to for advice. This can often be due to reasons beyond their control.

But the challenges can also be deeper than having a safe place to stay. The impact of homelesseness is not temporary. All too often, a person’s long-term mental and physical health, education and sense of self-worth can also be at risk.

That is what makes our award winners even more remarkable. We can all draw inspiration from the courage they have shown in turning their lives around and going on to excel in a variety of aspects of life.

The young people commended this afternoon have each had to overcome their own seemingly insurmountable challenges.  But crucially in doing so, they have not allowed homelessness to destroy their ambitions or determine their futures. They are proof that when given the right opportunities, they can not only recognise their potential, but achieve so much more.

I know all of you here this evening are committed to highlighting the plight of homeless people, and I am grateful to you all for that. Ending youth homelessness remains an urgent challenge - too many in society are still unaware of just how many young people need our help.

Thanks to Centrepoint's Youth Homeless Databank, which is supported by Google, we know that there are just under 140,00 young people in England and Wales seeking support for homelessness. Alarmingly, as little as 12% of those people are actually being housed.

This is of particular concern ahead of the Christmas period, where young people can resort to desperate measures to avoid sleeping on the streets. Centrepoint expects that 15,000 young will be without a home over Christmas, often having to sleep rough.

That is why the charity is focussing on making specialist advice widely and readily available – so that young people in that situation know where to go for help.

Centrepoint are the first to acknowledge they have more work to do. We can reach more young people and help them turn their lives around. But we can only do it with your continued support.

Thank you.