I am delighted to be here today, with William, to open this wonderful new facility for homeless people in Newport.
As many of you might have heard, William is celebrating his 21st birthday on Saturday, and when we were discussing what engagements he might do to celebrate this special occasion he said three things: he wanted to do them in Wales, he wanted to see something of the North and the South, and he wanted to include an engagement with the rural community and a visit to a homeless charity. This morning we ate our way around a festival of wonderful food from Anglesey and Gwynedd and met many people involved in the community of that very special part of Wales. ...
And now this afternoon we have had the chance to see something of the work of the Newport Action for the Single Homeless, which this year is also celebrating a special birthday - it is 20 years since NASH‘s first hostel was opened.
Its record since then is remarkable. From a small group employing only seven people, it now has sixty and provides a broad range of services, including hostels, supported houses, a bond guarantee scheme which enables people on low incomes to access private housing, and outreach support services. But what makes NASH so special is the way it is tackling the problem of homelessness.
The team here does not simply focus on putting a roof over someone‘s head -important as that most certainly is -but it involves themselves in all aspects of that person‘s life giving them every opportunity to break the cycle which can trap them in a life of homelessness if there is not some practical intervention. As we have seen here today at the new Pilot Project this can include giving training in various craft and art forms -painting, woodwork, pottery and music. It has been a joy to see the evident pleasure and self-confidence which the young people we have met today have gained through the help which they have been given at the Pilot Project.
What I find so refreshing about this is that its principles are similar to those which underpin my Prince‘s Trust, which I started some 27 years ago. Self-confidence -self-worth -finding and developing the talents they have. Sitting in front of a screen may not be right for everyone...
Also delighted to see how the private sector has involved itself in this project. For instance, I know that Wimpey Wales has agreed to install a kitchen and a catering training facility. And George Street Furnishers, a near neighbour of NASH, has given generously too.
And, of course, a huge debt of gratitude goes to the WDA, the heritage Lottery Fund, the Community Fund and the Welsh Assembly – all of whom have given most generously to the Pilot Project.
But none of this work would be possible without the extraordinary people who make NASH possible. Ken Edwards, the Chairman, was at the very first meeting held in 1980 to discuss how the community could help the homeless people of Newport.
Somehow, until his retirement, Mr Edwards managed to be both a voluntary committee member and the Senior Nursing Officer who managed the Community Psychiatric Services for Gwent. Since his retirement he has, I know, given an enormous amount of time to NASH and he is owed a great debt of gratitude.
It is a mark of this strongly community-based project that even the Mayor of Newport, Councillor Truman, works with NASH. Perhaps its ‘localness‘ is one of the secrets of its success. But certainly Richard Frame, the Director, and all those staff and volunteers who work at NASH deserve every possible congratulations for the remarkable work which they do.
It could not give William and I more pleasure than to unveil this plaque covered with this extraordinarily beautiful banner, and to declare the Newport Action for the Single Homeless Pilot Project open.