Coronavirus: Duke of Cambridge says it is time to 'crack homelessness'

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Prince William with homeless peopleImage source, Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Images
Image caption,
The prince joked with some former rough sleeper about losing weight in lockdown

The Duke of Cambridge has said now is the chance to "crack homelessness".

During a visit to The Light Project in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, he said because of the coronavirus pandemic it is the time to "do something properly".

The drop-in-centre has helped to house more than 150 people in four hotels during lockdown.

One of them, Robert Smale, 55, who had been living in a tent for six years, said: "I've got no intention of going back on the streets again."

Image source, Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Images
Image caption,
The Prince met with members of The Light House Project and those that help the project

During lockdown, councils in England have been given £3.2m from the government as part of an emergency scheme called Everyone In, to house them, aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

While talking to rough sleepers, the prince said: "This pandemic has been truly horrendous for everyone - I'm really hoping that the slivers of positivity and the slivers of goodness that might come out of this is in the homelessness side of things.

"You'll never have a better chance nationally to crack homelessness and do something properly."

Image source, Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA Images
Image caption,
Prince William spoke to Robert Farrand during his socially distanced visit to Peterborough on Thursday

Prince William said he had heard New York was buying up hotels to use as permanent accommodation for rough sleepers, as they expected demand from tourists to be flat for some time.

"So there's opportunities here, there really is, to do this and we've just got to be a bit brave and a bit bold to get it done."

Gary Griffiths, 55, a lead roofer, who worked on restoring Windsor Castle after the 1992 fire said it had been a "nightmare" living in his truck for six weeks before lockdown.

He has now been rehoused.

Mr Smale, who is hoping for a more permanent home, said: "[If] I've got this chance to better my life - then I'll take your arm off, I'll take it with both hands and snatch."

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