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Rick Henderson, CEO of Homeless Link writes:-

Over the last couple of weeks you will no doubt have seen a lot of press coverage of the Prince of Wales and his statements about homelessness.

Today they are announcing the launch of a Royal Foundation initiative known as the Homewards Partnership. I am pleased to tell you that Homeless Link is a sector partner and that we have been working with the Foundation for several months behind the scenes to shape it.

There may well be some cynicism about this new programme, but there are a few reasons why I think we are right to be involved:-

  1. The guiding principle is about setting up local partnerships. This is something that Homeless Link has always prided itself in doing. Recognising that approaches to ending homelessness must be multi-dimensional, we regularly convene local stakeholder groups. With the extra convening power of the Royals, such partnerships could be even stronger.
  2. It gets us attention. No one can doubt the ability of the Royals to bring media attention to an issue. In the world of politics, it’s not always about winning moral arguments but also about getting your issue higher up the priority lists. As we start the long run in to a general election, having homelessness in the spotlight will help us gain longer term positive government prioritisation and funding.
  3. It’s ambitious. HRH is on record as saying he wants to end homelessness. That is our mission too – along with most of our members. We need this level of ambition to remind us that whole systems need to change. And also to combat fatalism. The public need to know that homelessness is not inevitable – but can be ended using the expertise within the sector.
  4. It helps us to tackle any remaining stigma associated with homelessness. Let us be clear that amongst the public homelessness and vagrancy often go hand in hand. And a large number of people still sadly believe that homelessness is somehow self-inflicted. The Royals will help us to reach new audiences with positive messages and tackle this prejudice.
  5. It’s got a fairly long-term commitment. The initiative will last for at least 5 years with Prince William committed to a personal involvement over at least that period of time.
  6. It is bringing new money into the sector from the Foundation itself and from corporate partners. We have been arguing vociferously that we need more money in the sector so every contribution is welcome and gratefully received

I believe the Foundation are genuinely listening – which is another trait that we value. We have been involved for some time and helping to shape the messaging and the design of the programme. The Foundation have welcomed our input, listened and adapted. So I am pleased about the work we have done to date, and about the positive reception today’s announcement has had in the media. We’ll keep you up to date with developments as we hear them.

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Rick Henderson

Chief Executive

Rick is the CEO of Homeless Link and was appointed to that role in July 2012. He is a member of the government’s National Rough Sleeping Advisory Panel and the London Mayor’s Rough Sleeping Task Group.