Speech by the Duke of Cambridge at Centrepoint’s Gala 2016
November 11, 2016
Last time I was on this stage, I performed a duet with Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift – Craig [David] and Ellie [Goulding] will be spared that horror tonight. But I’m absolutely delighted to say that Jonathan Ross has kindly agreed to rap for us later!
This evening is a celebration of everything that young people are capable of when they are given the support that they need.
All of those nominated for this year’s Centrepoint Awards, now an annual event, deserve to be commended. They are Centrepoint’s legacy, the proof of the positive impact this extraordinary organisation has made for nearly 50 years now and I know will go on making.
Whether fleeing war overseas, battling mental illness, enduring the dangers of sleeping on the streets, the young people of Centrepoint have come through experiences that could have broken the resolve of any one of us.
About this time a few years ago, for one night, I gave up the warmth and comfort of my bed, and tried sleeping on the streets of London. Of course, this was just one night: I was cold but safe, and I knew I had a home waiting for me.
This Christmas as many as 25,000 young people will be at risk of homelessness. And remember this, behind that appalling statistic is a human being not much older than many of our children and grandchildren, who is alone, frightened and confronted with impossible choices.
The scale of youth homelessness in this country is now shameful – it must not be ignored. As a society, we have a clear duty to redouble our efforts, to do more to help.
And I leave you all with one thought. No one who Centrepoint helps has chosen the label “homeless”. First and foremost, these young people are ordinary people – like our sons and daughters and friends; nothing different about them. The same hopes, the same anxieties, sense of adventure, and wanting to find their way in life – but life has dealt them a cruel hand: family breakdown, addiction, the wrong crowd, bullying, or poor mental health.
So, my real thanks tonight goes to Centrepoint for consistently seeing beyond the label “homeless” and seeing each young man and woman for who he or she is. That in itself is life-changing, and we need more of that in our society.