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I'm always getting grief for not cooking, William tells homeless centre user

Published 13/05/2016

The Duke of Cambridge is to make a visit to a charity for the homeless which he visited with his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1994
The Duke of Cambridge is to make a visit to a charity for the homeless which he visited with his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1994

The Duke of Cambridge has revealed he is "always getting grief for his lack of cooking".

William made the remarks while touring a homeless organisation he last visited with his mother, as the charity revealed the multi-million pound refurbishment of one of its buildings.

On Friday, William took a look around the revamped St Vincent's Centre in London, Victoria, which is run by the charity, The Passage.

He was introduced to centre user, Alex Reid, who showed William around his studio accommodation.

Calling the flat "swish", William asked the 48-year-old, who has lived at the centre for two years, if his culinary skills were any good.

Alex, a former heroin addict who spent "all night and day" cleaning and tidying his flat ahead of the Royal visit, told him they "weren't bad," to which the Duke replied: "I'm always getting grief for my lack of cooking."

Established in 1980, The Passage help homeless people transform their lives by providing resources that encourage, inspire and challenge.

The organisation runs the UK's largest support centre for homeless and insecurely housed people - and since its inception has helped over 100,000 individuals in crisis.

William last visited The Passage as a child with Prince Harry and his mother, Princess Diana in 1994.

One volunteer, Iris Moore, who was there for William's visit 22 years ago, also met him at the revamp launch, remarking that he had definitely "grown".

The 87-year-old volunteer said she told William she had met him when he was a little boy and asked him if he remembered - to which the Duke said he recalled looking around the centre as a child.

Looking back on the previous visit, Ms Moore said: "She (Diana) sat with all the homeless and the two boys, she wanted them to see a different way of life."

She said the two youngsters were "a bit shy" and that it was very special to her that William had come back.

Ms Moore told the now-adult Duke that he had now grown up, to which he agreed, saying he actually thinks he is getting shorter.

Of the latest visit, she said: "I thought he looked very young, you felt you could talk to him."

Looking around the new facilities, which include a new restaurant, winter garden, medical unit and training space, he met with other members of the centre who benefit from the services on offer and those who volunteer their time.

Sitting in on a jewellery-making group, the Duke was handed a necklace for Kate and a bracelet for himself and Prince Harry.

William told Gladys Okwousa that his wife would "love" the gift, adding: "It might get me some brownie points."

The Duke then attended a short reception and unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the official opening of the revamped centre.

Speaking before the plaque was revealed, William said: "Since 1863 St Vincent's Centre has been a beacon of hope in Westminster for those in need and on the margins of society.

"For the last 36 years The Passage has been there for those who find themselves homeless, or at risk of homelessness.

"This Passage has helped an astonishing 100,000 people. The visit I made as a child to this place left a deep and lasting impression upon me.

"About how important it is to ensure that everyone in our society, especially the poorest, are treated with respect, dignity and kindness and given the opportunities to fulfil their potential in life."

Thanking everyone involved in the refurbishment and the future of the charity, he pulled the cord to reveal the plaque.

William was then given a framed image of his last visit, featuring his mother and brother, by former centre user turned client ambassador, Mark Smith.

Touched by the memento, the Duke thanked him for the picture, remarking: "Wow the t-shirts" in reference to what he and his brother were wearing.

William is an avid supporter of schemes and organisations that support the homeless - much like his late mother.

In 2009 he spent a night on the streets of London to raise awareness of the issue in an event organised by Centrepoint - a homeless charity which he is also a patron of.

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