Duke of Cambridge pays tribute to 'inspiring' anti-crime charity
PUBLISHED October 18, 2012
The Duke attended a dinner in aid of the St Giles Trust, seeks to prevent offenders continuing their involvement in crime by helping people in trouble with the law resettle and break the cycle of offending.
The Duke, who is patron of the Trust's 50th anniversary, paid tribute to the organisation, which he said "inspires" him.
He attended the dinner without his wife, the Duchess of Cambridge.
He said: ''This charity truly inspires me. It has touched the lives of a quarter of a million people over the past five decades.
"These are people from the margins of society who, thanks to this charity, were able to recover from an appalling start and go on to live successful, productive and positive lives.
''What started as a small soup kitchen for the homeless and destitute has become one of the leading charities in this country helping ex-offenders to reform, resettle, and - critically- to break out of the costly and destructive cycle of reoffending.''
He said people working for the Trust are ''beyond praise''. ''They understand what their clients are going through, because in many cases they have been there themselves.''
The Trust uses former offenders as workers to help people break away from crime.
Elroy Palmer, 45, who received 11 years for involvement in drugs and organised crime, has worked for the Trust for four years.
''Education in prison saved my life," said Mr Palmer, a senior case worker with the Trust, who left prison in 2007.
"With education comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes confidence to say, 'I don't need to make those sort of decisions'.
''He is a brave prince. We expected a certain character from his parental influences, and he has stepped outside the normal boundaries of celebrities and dignitaries."
He added: ''He's been to St Giles, he's shut the door to talk to case workers and clients.
"It signals that society has not turned its back on you, the future king is interested to sit down in a room and speak to you, that's what that tells us.''
Christian Douglas, 23, who received five years for robbery, is a case worker helping people in Croydon who are coming out of prison after serving sentences for involvement in last year's riots.
He said: ''We look at the underlying issues which caused them to go into criminal activity - housing issues, debt, welfare issues, whatever it may be - and help them settle when they come out.
"It definitely works, and being an ex-offender yourself helps break down the barriers.''
The dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London was hosted by the October Club, which has helped charities with a fund-raising dinner at this time of year since 1988.
Meanwhile the Duke did a double-take when he was walking into dinner and passed a cake recreating his drive down The Mall with the Duchess of Cambridge in his father's Aston Martin after their wedding.
The cake features the car, complete with royal couple.
Claudia Newberry, of Bidborough, Kent, who made it, said she expected it to be taken to the Trust's headquarters in Camberwell, south London.
She might have to make another one if the successful bidder in an auction lot at the dinner so requested.
''It is a vanilla cake, with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream, and only three components of the cake are not edible - the windscreen, Catherine's veil, and the wires holding on the balloons,'' she said.