Duchess hails homelessness charity ‘making a real difference’ on visit to Aberdeen

The Duchess of Cambridge has praised a cafe run by homelessness charity Social Bite for “making a real difference”.

Kate, known as the Countess of Strathearn while in Scotland, heard from staff, customers and volunteers at the venue in Union Street, Aberdeen, which provides jobs to people who have been homeless.

Social Bite, which aims to end homelessness in Scotland, runs five social enterprise cafes and distributes free food to homeless people and those in food poverty.

Kate spoke to staff and customers about their experiences of homelessness and how tough times in their early years shaped their lives, as well as the stigma they have faced.

In conversation, she said: “This isn’t about a second chance, it’s about finding a first chance.”

She added: “Sometimes it’s the simple things, like the idea of listening to people.

“It’s the kindness of communities like this that really make a difference.”

Social Bite co-founder Alice Thompson and chief executive officer Jane Bruce greeted the royal visitor before she went to the kitchen and helped prepare food.

Staff member Matt Thomas, 49, who was homeless five years ago but now works in the cafe full-time and has a permanent home, showed her how to make a chicken wrap, joking: “You can come back and help me tomorrow.”

They spoke about how Social Bite helped him and others who find themselves homeless.

Mr Thomas said: “She made you feel very much at ease very quickly. She’s very interested in you as a person and finding out what your experience is.

“Making the wraps was actually really good fun, having something to do. I make them every day but I think hers was better looking than mine.”

He added: “Her visit is really good for our service users and for the staff as well.

“Many have experienced homelessness at some point or another and to have someone of her calibre taking an interest really means a lot.

“Especially when you know she has a really busy schedule so to take time out and speak to us, it’s just magic, really.”

Ms Thompson said: “We’re always delighted to have anybody in the public eye come and shed a spotlight on our mission to end homelessness in Scotland.

“It’s completely doable and people like the Duchess of Cambridge coming to help publicise our message is one of the most effective ways of creating a cultural shift for us, so it means the world.”

Kate’s solo visit follows the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s trip to the Social Bite cafe in Edinburgh in 2018.

It comes in the wake of her launch of a landmark national survey last month on the early years development of children.

The poll, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the Royal Foundation, is thought to be the biggest survey of its kind.

It aims to bring about “positive, lasting change for generations to come”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Kate was in Northern Ireland meeting young children during a tour of the Ark Open Farm in Newtownards, Co Down.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2020, All Rights Reserved. Pictured (c) Andrew Milligan / PA Wire.

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