Front Page







World Summary

On Air


Talking Point


Text Only


Site Map

Friday, November 14, 1997 Published at 17:27 GMT


Royal charm gives boost to homeless project

The Queen was keen to find out how the project helped young people find work

The Queen won over the mind of one young anti-royalist after opening a homeless centre that aims to provide job training, education and affordable shelter.

Elise Greenwood was celebrating her 18th birthday, and was wished "many happy returns" by the Queen.

But it was more than a simple royal greeting that won her over as she spent several minutes chatting in her bedroom at the Salters City Foyer in Smithfield, central London.

The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, was clearly interested to know how the project was helping Elise build a new future. "She questioned me about my courses," said Elise.

"Everyone judges without knowing"

"She asked whether the room was noisy, and about the shared kitchen. She asked if we argue about it and I told her we didn't. I think it's great here."

[ image: The Queen received a warm welcome at the central London Foyer]
The Queen received a warm welcome at the central London Foyer
Elise, who became homeless after "troubles" with her family, got her second-floor room at the Foyer soon after it opened its doors in the summer.

She said the day she moved in, June 23, was more important to her than her birthday today. But she made it clear that meeting the Queen was another big change to her thinking.

"I have to admit I had a misconception about her. Everyone judges without knowing.

"Now that I have met her, I feel guilty. She is really nice."

"She's wonderful"

"I wasn't a royalist - I used to scowl at the mention of the Queen," she said.

"I didn't think she was doing much. But she's wonderful, honestly," said Elise. "She is just such a nice woman."

[ image: This Foyer in Kent has given new hope to many youngsters]
This Foyer in Kent has given new hope to many youngsters
Elise said she hoped the interest in the project would lead to many more opening across Britain - so far there are 58 Foyers in existence and this was the first in the City of London.

The Salters City Foyer, which houses 40 people, is the 58th such facility in the UK.

The idea for Foyers, which give comprehensive support to jobless and homeless young people, comes from France.

Harness this support

The umbrella organisation, the Foyer Federation, is promoting the idea of a "Foyer in every town" towards a network of 440 by 2002.

The Foyer is named after the Salters Livery Company which supports it, but it is run by Centrepoint, the homeless charity of which Diana, Princess of Wales, was patron. The Queen's visit to open the project officially provides the Foyer Federation with a welcome publicity boost.

[ image: The projects aim to give young people a boost with education and training]
The projects aim to give young people a boost with education and training
The Chief Executive of the Federation, Carolyn Hayman, said: "We are delighted to see Her Majesty supporting Foyers in this way.

"If we can harness this support, and that of Government ministers, to secure sources of funding for foyers, we have a real opportunity to make an enormous difference to the lives of thousands of disadvantaged young people and help break the cycle of homelessness and unemployment."

"I've gone far"

At a Foyer in Kent, one resident, Ross Brook, described how the combination had given him a fresh start.

"When I moved in I didn't want to do much, I had no ambition," he said.

"It has given me a kick in the right direction and I've gone far since I've moved in."

Each resident gets help to match their needs, from basic literacy work to back-up when applying for jobs.

[ image: Computers do not come cheap but they do help youngsters find work]
Computers do not come cheap but they do help youngsters find work
The Kent Foyer has its own restaurant, in keeping with the French tradition.

Christine Revel, who runs it, said: "It gives them a chance to integrate and it teaches them social skills, which maybe they haven't got."

"Don't store up problems"

Foyers fit the Government's "welfare to work" strategy but they do not come cheap. The Kent project cost 2 million to build but in two years it has helped 250 young people into work of further education.

The project manager, Andy James, said: "These sort of projects do require a lot of funding but the results we're achieving are second to none.

"So it's whether you take a short-term view and look at it from a purely monetary point of view or you look at society as a whole. You can't afford to overlook these young people and the problems they face or you're storing up problems for the future."

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Internet Links

The British Monarchy


The BBC is not responsible for the content of these internet sites.
UK Contents