THE Prince of Wales has announced the first of the flagship areas where he hopes to end homelessness with his new Homewards project.

William said he is “excited” to be launching the five-year initiative in the Londonborough of Lambeth, one of six locations where new partnerships will be forged between councils, businesses, charities and individuals to eradicate the issue.

In a speech to mark the event, held on Monday morning at an organisation supporting local residents with mental health issues, the future king said he is pleased to be at the “start of our path to ending homelessness”.

He said: “Over the next five years, I believe that we have a unique opportunity to develop innovative new solutions and scale tangible impact.

“This will inspire belief throughout the UK – and beyond – that homelessness can be ended for good.”

William spoke about his personal connection to the issue, telling the audience, which included representatives from leading homelessness charities, how Diana, Princess of Wales took him to The Passage in December 1993.

He said: “My first visit to a homelessness shelter was when I was 11, with my mother. The visits we made left a deep and lasting impression.

“I met so many extraordinary people and listened to so many heart-breaking personal stories. Too many people have found themselves without a stable and permanent place to call home.”

William, who will visit and reveal the remaining five Homewards locations on Monday and Tuesday, said: “Lambeth will become part of a network of six flagship Homewards locations across the UK, all committed to creating and delivering a plan to prevent homelessness in their areas.

“They will all put collaboration at the heart of the response, forming locally led coalitions of committed people, organisations and businesses.

“Their in-depth knowledge of the specific issues and requirements of their local areas will drive forward the work – and we will be here to support you, bringing together an unprecedented network of individuals and organisations with expertise, resources and the commitment to end homelessness.”

Invited to the launch, held at mental health organisation Mosaic Clubhouse in Brixton, south London, was Big Issue seller Dave Martin, 61. Last summer he was joined at his pitch in west London by William who helped him sell the magazine.

Mr Martin welcomed the prince’s Homewards initiative, which will encourage local groups in the six chosen locations to join forces and develop “bespoke” action plans to tackle homelessness with up to £500,000 in funding.

He said: “I think it’s really personal to him. His mother used to go to The Passage – that’s where he experienced homelessness for the first time, that’s why it’s really important to him.”

The prince sat down with the core Homewards Lambeth team, which included Lambeth Council leader Claire Holland and a number of organisations from the voluntary sector.

He told them: “I hope we can just collaborate more, convene more, scale more, and hopefully see where we end up in five years’ time.”