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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 10:24 GMT 11:24 UK
Prince visits homeless centre
Crowds gathered to see Prince William in Newport
Crowds gathered to see Prince William in Newport
Student Prince William has chosen an arts centre for the homeless as one of the two destinations in Wales during his official trip to mark his coming of age.

The prince, who was accompanied by his father Prince Charles, met some of the hundreds of people who use the centre built for the charity Newport Action for the Single Homeless.

The 1m centre is the first of its kind around the UK according to its director Richard Frame, who is hoping the development can help as a blueprint for others.

Prince William, who is studying for an MA in the History of Art at university in Scotland, met some of the homeless people in Newport who also share an interest in art.

Earlier in the day the royal pair visited a food fair at the other end of the country in Anglesey.

Because they were not working, didn't have a job or a chance of getting a job, they were having to live on benefits which wasn't very much
Richard Frame

Mr Frame said the charity had set up the centre after 20 years of providing shelter for the homeless in the city because their users "were really never succeeding in establishing themselves back in the community".

"It was easy enough to get them a flat of somewhere to live after they'd stayed with us," he said.

"But because they were not working, didn't have a job or a chance of getting a job, they were having to live on benefits which wasn't very much."

"So for many years we have been trying to raise the funds to build a centre we could help people get back into training - leading to further education and leading to employment."

One of the arts centre visitors hoping to meet the princes on their tour on Thursday is 53-year-old Robert Jones, who is trying to learn skills to get his drawings on the internet.

Mr Jones is receiving invalidity benefit and is under the doctor.

Prince William in Newport
The prince greeted well-wishers outside the homeless arts centre

He says the centre has been a great help to him.

"It gets me out of the house for two or three days a week and its something to focus on and something to work on," he said.

Nineteen-year-old AJ is being housed by the charity after nine months living on the streets and sleeping rough following eviction from his flat.

"It was pretty difficult because of people coming out of the pubs....people just throwing things at you giving you verbal abuse or whatever just because they think it's funny."

Now, with the support of the arts centre, AJ's future is looking much brighter.

"It keeps me out of trouble," he said. "I come here to chill, just drumming "


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