THE DUKE of Cambridge met homeless youngsters when he visited a Wearside centre which is helping them learn to fend for themselves.
Prince William is patron of homelessness charity Centrepoint and visited its centre in Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth.
The centre provides accommodation for up to 18 young people and teaches them skills including balancing a household budget and basic cookery that they need to stand on their own two feet.
The prince met residents Wade Tench, 20, Chloe Martin, 17, and 18-year-old Nathan King before touring the building and trying his hand at cooking in the centre’s teaching kitchen.
Wade told the duke how the centre had helped him to find a place on a training course with Nissan.
He said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“I was a bit nervous at first but after he had introduced himself and cracked a few jokes, I started to relax a little.
“I didn’t think I would ever be talking to a prince, but he was very down to earth – he has good banter.”
Chloe has been at the centre for six weeks, since personal problems made it impossible to stay at home.
She said: “I love it here.
“The staff are all really friendly and the residents are lovely – it’s the best place to go to if you are homeless.”
The duke also met young people who have been helped by the Prince’s Trust, the charity established by his father Prince Charles.
Nineteen-tea-old Jemma Sams was helped to find a job with Barclays at Doxford International after being homeless since she was 14.
She said: “It was amazing, at first I was so nervous, especially as he was sitting right next to me.
“But he was just so friendly, I started to relax.”
Centrepoint chief executive Seyi Obakin said: “We are really pleased the Duke of Cambridge was able to hear first hand just how much young people ant to start training courses and find work.”
There were only a handful of people waiting to greet the duke when he arrived but more well-wishers arrived as word spread of his presence in the city.
Friends Paula Sharp and Joanna Redford, both 41, had abandoned their shopping trolleys in the hope of catching a glimpse of the VIP guest.
Paula said: “I have rung the store and they are keeping our shopping at the customer service desk.
“We could be meeting the future king of England.”