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Prince William during launch of Homewards in 2023© Andrew Parsons/Kensington Palace

Prince William's 'understanding of trauma' is the driving force behind ambitious homelessness project

The Prince of Wales launched Homewards one year ago today

Emily Nash
Emily Nash - London
Royal EditorLondon
3 days ago
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Prince William's understanding of trauma is helping to drive his fight to end homelessness, according to an advocate of his ambitious Homewards programme.

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, who experienced rough sleeping as a teenager, said of the heir to the throne: "He understands trauma.. He can see echoes of it in himself I think, from that experience of trauma and how it affects you and how it affects the way you see things."

The Prince was just 15 when his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, was tragically killed in a car crash. In recent years he has spoken about the traumatic incidents he witnessed as a pilot working for East Anglian Air Ambulance.

And he has long been aware of the plight of homeless people, having first visited The Passage charity with his mother and brother Prince Harry in 1993.

Sabrina, who is now chief fire officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said of the Prince: "He's really, really passionate about the human impact of this. He doesn't just see it as something to be the figurehead of. He really cares about the impact on people."

Sabrina, who has taken formerly homeless people being helped by another programme to meet William at Windsor, added: "I was really taken by how powerfully he wanted to help… one thing that Prince does know is trauma. And you could really see that coming through with the empathy and the compassion that he had when he was talking to these individuals who'd previously experienced homelessness… And I genuinely believe that the Prince's convening power is going to really help to shift the narrative."

Look back at the launch video for homelessness here...

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The Homewards advocate spoke out ahead of an event in Lambeth today [Thursday] to mark the programme's first anniversary, where William will repeat his conviction that it is possible to end homelessness.

He will say: "Homelessness is a complex societal issue, and one that touches the lives of far too many people in our society. However, I truly believe that it can be ended."

Sabrina, who is also an honorary Professor of Behavioural Science at Cardiff University, also praised the way the Prince was changing perceptions of homelessness.

William with Tyrone Mings, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Gail Porter and David Duke in June 2023© Andrew Parsons/Kensington Palace
William with Tyrone Mings, Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, Gail Porter and David Duke in June 2023

She slept rough over a period of two years from the age of 15 after her family life in Newport, South Wales, broke down following the death of her father.

She was "saved" by selling the Big Issue and managing to secure accommodation with her earnings, but did not talk about her experience for more than 20 years because of the stigma.

She added: "It's so important to take people who’ve had lived experience as advocates, who can talk about changing the stigma and challenging people's perceptions of homelessness, so that people like me aren’t written off so quickly."

Prince William launches Homewards in Belfast© Getty
William toured the UK to launch the project last summer

Homewards is working towards ending and preventing of homelessness by identifying and supporting those most at risk.

Mark Downie, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, a Homewards sector partner, said: "We are facing some really, really tough times. Homelessness is going up but actually, the evidence to end homelessness has never been better."

And he said of Homewards: "This is special, this is big and this will help us make a step change in the fight to tackle and end homelessness."

Prince William attends a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting at the Millennium Gallery © Getty
William at the Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting in March

Sabrina, who has visited the programme's coalition in Newport, said: "It meant so much to me to be able to see people who aren't going to have the same experience that I had.

"They're never going to know they were helped because they're not going to need to know, because they're not going to experience homelessness.

"And that ability for the Prince as one person to be the conductor that says to everyone, 'We're going to close that sliding door now so people will walk through this one,' That is incredible."

LISTEN: Why is the relationship between the monarch and the PM so special?

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