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Duke of Cambridge meets apprentices given housing boost by Centrepoint

The duke officially opened the charity’s new Apprenticeship House in south London.

The Duke of Cambridge (centre) with chief executive of Centrepoint Seyi Obakin (third left) as he visits the charity’s new apprenticeship accommodation (Ben Stansall/PA)
The Duke of Cambridge (centre) with chief executive of Centrepoint Seyi Obakin (third left) as he visits the charity’s new apprenticeship accommodation (Ben Stansall/PA)

By Laura Parnaby, PA

A group of young people have told the Duke of Cambridge how their lives have been transformed by a youth homelessness charity as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

William officially opened Centrepoint’s new accommodation for apprentices – Apprenticeship House – in south London on Wednesday and sat down for a chat with some of its residents.

The building has been transformed by the charity into a seven-bedroom shared home for young people on apprenticeship programmes, and aims to support them in their journey to independent living.

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The Duke of Cambridge at the opening of Centrepoint’s new apprenticeship accommodation (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The facility is part of a wider programme of developing housing solutions in both London and Manchester to help young people moving on from charity hostels and into work.

The duke sat in the living room with five of the resident as Muniira Ali told him she loves her first job in marketing at RAPP.

Miss Ali, who had short, pink hair, said: “I love it because I’m really creative.”

The duke joked: “I can tell from your hair.”

Three residents are starting jobs as prep chefs and front of house staff at Spanish restaurant Erros, and another will be working in customer services for Virgin Red.

After meeting the young apprentices, William spoke with the Centrepoint staff who changed their lives.

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William is greeted by the chief executive of Centrepoint, Seyi Obakin, as he arrives to open Apprenticeship House (Isabel Infantes/PA)

The duke, wearing a red jumper, also unveiled a plaque to celebrate the charity’s first house provided for young people in combination with apprentice schemes.

After speaking with the duke, resident Antonio Sibsen, 20, said the housing provided by Centrepoint was “wonderful”.

Mr Sibsen, originally from Leeds, said: “It means the world to me because for the last few years I have been sofa surfing.

“The longest I have stayed anywhere has been with Centrepoint, and I have been with them for nine months now.

“It means I can finally have a life for myself.”

On Wednesday evening, the duke will join music stars Rita Ora and Duran Duran at Centrepoint’s 50th Anniversary Gala.

He will give a speech at the event, which aims to promote the achievements of people who once depended on the charity and highlight the challenges they face.

The duke has been the patron of Centrepoint – which began in the basement of St Anne’s Church in Soho, central London, in 1969 – since 2005.

Centrepoint supports more than 9,000 homeless young people a year, offering them accommodation, health support and life skills to get them back into education, training and employment.

PA

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