The Prince of Wales will state his belief that homelessness “can be ended” when he marks the first anniversary of his ambitious project to eradicate the issue.

William will visit the London Borough of Lambeth where, 12 months ago, he launched his five-year Homewards initiative that aims to tackle all forms of homelessness, which “touches the lives of far too many people”.

During the past year, the Homewards teams in six UK locations have been building collaborations between the public, private and third sectors with the aim of laying foundations.

The Prince of Wales sitting at a table talking to a group of people
The Prince of Wales during a visit to a Homewards Sheffield Local Coalition meeting (Oli Scarff/PA)

Homebase pledged £1 million to the project, which is also supported by Pret-a-Manger. The coffee chain has also expanded its scheme employing the homeless.

The prince’s commitment to tackling the social issue reflects his understanding of the “trauma” experienced by rough sleepers, an official advocate for the project has suggested.

In a speech in Lambeth, one of Homewards’ six locations, William is expected to say: “It’s fantastic to be back in Lambeth, where a year ago we launched Homewards and began our journey of working together to demonstrate that it is possible to end homelessness…

“Homelessness is a complex societal issue and one that touches the lives of far too many people in our society. However, I truly believe that it can be ended.”

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, chief fire officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, who experienced homelessness as a teenager, is an official Homewards advocate and suggested the prince had empathy for rough sleepers because of his own life experiences.

When a teenager, William suffered the trauma of the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, who had been taking the young royal and his brother to homeless shelters to broaden their horizons.

“He understands trauma, he does understand trauma,” said Ms Cohen-Hatton.

She added: “He can see echoes of it in himself I think, from that experience of trauma and how it affects you and how it affects the way you see things.”

Ms Cohen-Hatton slept rough intermittently for two years from the age of 15 in her home town of Newport, South Wales after family life broke down following the death of a parent, and she credits selling the Big Issue magazine as providing the funds and confidence to break the cycle.

She stressed it was difficult accessing support in the midst of homelessness: “When you’re experiencing the constant threat and the danger from the people around you, when you don’t have enough to eat let alone enough to think, it’s really hard to reach out and to take those services.”

Headshot of the Prince of Wales
William hopes his project will make homelessness ‘rare, brief and unrepeated’ (Oli Scarff/PA)

The senior fire officer did not talk about her period of sleeping rough for more than 20 years because of the associated “stigma” but said one of her roles as an advocate was to “talk about changing the stigma and challenging people’s perceptions of homelessness”.

William is said to be in almost daily contact with Homewards’ senior management and has been welcoming advocates like broadcaster Gail Porter and Ms Cohen-Hatton to Windsor Castle for discussions.

A forthcoming ITV documentary, which has followed the prince during Homewards’ first year, will feature the senior fire officer taking a former long-term homeless man to meet William and tell his story.

Homelessness in various forms, from children living in temporary accommodation to rough sleepers in the capital, has reached record highs.

Government statistics published in April showed there were 145,800 children in temporary accommodation by December 31 last year, up by a fifth on 20 years ago when records for this measure began.

Royal visit to The Passage – London
Diana, Princess of Wales during a visit to the homeless charity The Passage with her sons, then Prince Harry and Prince William in the early 1990s. The Passage

The official figures showed there were a total of 112,660 households in bedsits or hotels in England, of which 71,280 were households with children.

In London, 11,993 people were seen sleeping rough in the year to March, according to the latest Combined Homelessness and Information Network (Chain) statistics.

Matt Downie, chief executive of homeless charity Crisis, a Homewards sector partner, said about the issue: “We are facing some really, really tough times. Homelessness is going up but actually, the evidence to end homelessness has never been better.”

Moving from “managing to ending” homelessness was a big mental leap that Homewards was helping to drive, and “prevention” was a key aim, as the types of people at risk of losing their homes could be identified.

He highlighted Finland’s success in reducing the number of homeless families to less than 150 since 2008, results Homewards hopes to replicate and its team are liaising with the Finns.

The Prince of Wales greeting Paul Gascoigne in crowd of people
The Prince of Wales meets Paul Gascoigne during a visit to a Pret A Manger store in Bournemouth, an event that promoted his homelessness project. Chris Jackson/PA

The Scandinavians began by housing long-term rough sleepers quickly before moving on to the general population and now night shelters are no longer needed.

Mr Downie said tackling the problem would be “hard work” as there was “no silver bullet here” but, speaking on behalf of the homelessness sector, he said about Homewards “this is special, this is big and this will help us make a step change in the fight to tackle and end homelessness”.

Homewards aims to develop bespoke solutions to homelessness in Newport, three neighbouring Dorset towns – Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch – Lambeth, Belfast, Aberdeen and Sheffield, that in the future can be replicated in other UK areas.

The second year will turn “collaboration into action” said Homewards’ management and in the autumn, each location will publish action plans that reflect their needs, from targeting families and young people in Sheffield to people living in care and women in Northern Ireland.

The initiative was recently given a boost worth £1 million from DIY retailer Homebase, which has pledged up to 1,500 home starter packs, featuring everything from paint to furniture, to help people housed by Homewards turn a property into a home.

It is one of 11 companies or “activators” providing expertise and in-kind support alongside Pret A Manger, which is helping an additional 500 people experiencing homelessness get jobs at its outlets as part of the firm’s Rising Stars programme.

The global property firm Knight Frank was named as the latest business supporter as was international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.