Prince William Visits Birmingham

29 November 2013, 17:25 | Updated: 29 November 2013, 19:25

The Duke of Cambridge has praised the work being done to help young people at risk of ending up living on the street, during a visit to a homeless shelter in Birmingham.

William met more than 20 people aged between 16 and 25 at a centre run by the charity St Basil's in Digbeth

The facility - part of a network of centres in the Midlands - offers a safe, supported environment, accommodation and access to training and education, and the Duke told his hosts he was ''bowled over'' by the charity's work after meeting the young residents.

William, who is patron of homeless charity Centrepoint - an affiliate of St Basil's - was visiting to endorse the End Youth Homelessness alliance of which both charities are members.

After a tour of Carole Gething House in Small Heath, he spoke in praise of both charities' work and also the local authority in Birmingham for being the first council in England to sign the homelessness pledge.

He said: ''No young person asks to be born into dire economic circumstances or a troubled family. No young person ever embarks on a road which he or she knows will result in the hopelessness and vicious cycle of homelessness.

''The sign of a civilised society, a civilised city and community, is one where we gather round and support those who need help - however they got themselves into those circumstances. Every single one of these lives is immeasurably precious.''

William met Reanne Waite, 18, who has been at the centre more than a year, and is now on her way to university to study sociology and criminology.

She said William had asked about her studies, describing him as ''really down-to-earth''.

She said his visit was vital because it showed ''people know that we're here''.

Afterwards, William accepted a book of poems written by the young residents and a T-shirt printed with the Duke's favourite football club, Aston Villa, which is also in the Midlands.

St Basil's, set up 40 years ago, runs an advice-line, supported accommodation and a handful of mother and baby units, and in recent years has been helping a growing number of 16 to 25-year-olds - last year it assisted more than 5,000 people.

On Tuesday, William grabbed headlines by joining rock star Jon Bon Jovi and singer Taylor Swift on stage to sing a rendition of Livin' On A Prayer at an event at Kensington Palace in aid of the charity.

Today, his hosts were quick to remind him of his unplanned performance, with one urging him: ''You haven't rapped yet?''

William laughed: ''I draw the line there''.

But he did manage to sing a long to children's book 'We're Going On A Bear Hunt' with children from Chandos Primary School in Highgate and joined in the movements - see the video here:


He was presented with a bag of books and a library card for his young son, Prince George, for which he thanked staff.

The name on the membership card read ''HRH Prince George of Cambridge'', and it is possible the youngster may visit the West Midlands library in the future after William revealed he had started reading to his son.

Talking to six-year-old Katie Wyatt, he said he had started showing George the pictures in story books.

Katie, from Birmingham, said after she met the Duke: ''I said to him 'Do you read to George?''

``He said 'I just let him look at he pictures, he likes to play with the pictures'.''

He then unveiled a plaque to commemorate his visit which will be placed in the foyer next to the one unveiled by Birmingham schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai when she opened the library in September.