Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall appeared visibly shocked yesterday when they visited London Road in Croydon, one of the areas devastated by arson, vandalism and looting during last weeks riots.
The Royal couple cut short their summer holiday for the visit to Croydon and Hackney – two of the London boroughs worst affected by last week’s riots. They met community leaders, families whose homes were destroyed, volunteers who have been helping rebuild them and local schoolchildren.
Their visit came on the day that the Government announced an extra £20m is to be given to Tottenham and Croydon, both areas which suffered the worst structural damage, with a number of buildings gutted by fire.
The Prince’s youth charity, The Prince’s Trust, also pledged to double it’s investment to £2.5million in the places worst hit by the riots across the country, including Hackney and Croydon, to help give young people in these areas a more positive future. The Trust has already raised £1million and hopes businesses will provide the rest.
Speaking in Croydon, the Prince said he was pleased the Prince’s Trust was able to get involved in helping teenagers escape gang culture: “I still think half the problem is that people join gangs because it is a cry for help, the fact they’re looking for a framework, a sense of belonging, and a meaning.
“What’s been so lacking is that sort of opportunity to allow people to be motivated and encouraged, and frankly exhausted because that’s what you really want at that age.”
The couple also visited Tottenham, where the rioting began, and a Prince’s Trust centre in Bayford Street, Hackney. During a discussion with a group of young people who have been helped by the charity, the Prince told them: “You do realise this is why I am so proud of all of you.” He also called on people who have already been helped by the charity to go out and motivate others and set a good example.
The Prince’s Trust was founded by Prince Charles in 1976 during a similar period of social unrest and youth unemployment. Find out more about their work here.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Hackney, police arrested a 19-year-old man and 18-year old woman in connection with the riots. Thirty officers and sniffer dogs raided a house that they suspected had been used to stash looted items – including a camera believed to have been stolen from a journalist. As police approached the address, workmen on the street cheered in support.