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  • Homewards Activator Pret A Manger commits to UK-wide expansion of The Pret Foundation’s Rising Stars Programme.

  • Local Bournemouth businesses including AFC Bournemouth and Sunseeker International commit to working together to end homelessness in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole

  • Prince William joined by new Homewards advocate Steven Bartlett during visits in Bournemouth to spotlight how businesses can play key role in ending homelessness.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, 7th September 2023 - Prince William has arrived in Bournemouth, one of the six flagship Homewards locations, to meet with local and national businesses, all of whom have pledged their support to the Homewards programme and to playing a role in demonstrating that it is possible to end homelessness - making it rare, brief, and unrepeated.

In a visit to Bournemouth’s Pret A Manger shop His Royal Highness, accompanied by podcaster, entrepreneur and newly announced Homewards Advocate Steven Bartlett, will hear about the company’s commitment, through its role as a Homewards Activator, to expand its long-standing Rising Stars programme. Over the next five years, The Pret Foundation’s Rising Stars programme, which helps break the cycle of homelessness by providing support, training and employment, will see a 40% expansion, supporting at least 500 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness into jobs at Pret’s UK shops, including in Homewards flagship locations where Pret has a presence.

The Prince will also visit AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium to hear about the Club’s ongoing work in the community to support those at risk of homelessness, and commitment to expanding their projects as part of Homewards.

Prince William, Steven Bartlett and AFC Bournemouth will then join a roundtable with representatives from local businesses and other national organisations with a presence in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. Attendees include The Pret Foundation, Sunseeker International, Lush, Dorset Chamber, Bournemouth Town Centre BID, BCHA and Bournemouth and Poole College.

All the businesses at today’s roundtable are coming together for the first time to pledge their support for Homewards and share a commitment to end homelessness in the area, starting by creating employment opportunities, investment, and a range of other initiatives.

Today’s visits follow on from the launch of Homewards in June. A five-year locally led programme, created by The Prince and The Royal Foundation of The Prince and Princess of Wales, Homewards is taking a transformative approach to the issue of homelessness. With collaboration at the centre of its mission, Homewards will give its six flagship locations, including Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, new space, tools, and relationships to showcase what can be achieved through a collective effort focused on preventing homelessness in their areas. The potential of the programme to drive forward change and galvanise national momentum on the issue of homelessness has been demonstrated by the response the programme has received since June, with individuals, organisations and initiatives from across the UK, and beyond, getting in touch to explore what they can do to support Homewards.

Amanda Berry, CEO, The Royal Foundation said: ‘Pret’s commitment to expanding its Rising Stars programme is an exciting moment for Homewards.This, alongside the other commitments being made today, demonstrates the powerful role businesses can and must play if we are to make an impact in this space. We are excited to see how today’s announcements inspire action across our Homewards locations and beyond over the next five years.’

Pano Christou, CEO, Pret A Manger and Trustee of The Pret Foundation, said: “Since we started The Pret Foundation almost 30 years ago, we’ve worked hard to give people facing homelessness vital support, training and employment opportunities, including through our Rising Stars programme. But no one can fix this problem alone. That’s why we’re so proud and honoured to be working with Homewards and His Royal Highness to take Rising Stars even further. We will continue to do everything we can as a business to help tackle this issue and give people new opportunities wherever we can.”

Steven Bartlett, entrepreneur, investor and Homewards Advocate said: ‘I am hugely passionate about the positive role that local businesses can play in ending homelessness. Through my own personal experience, I have seen the impact that can be made when businesses invest in and support local communities and individuals regardless of their background or education. I look forward to utilising my platform to encourage businesses to step up and get involved.’