On Tuesday, the Princess of Wales visited Hope Street in Southampton, England to officially open the new space. Hope Street was designed and developed by One Small Thing, a charity working to improve the justice system for women and children. The community is the first of its kind in the U.K. and offers a safe alternative for kids to remain with their moms in a home-like environment with targeted support.
Kate Middleton is shining her royal spotlight on a pioneering program dedicated to keeping women in the justice system with their children.
“Hope Street offers a community alternative for women who would otherwise be imprisoned unnecessarily due to a lack of safe accommodation or concerns around their wellbeing,” Kensington Palace said in a statement. “The pilot aims to demonstrate how a compassionate and supportive approach towards women in the justice system can have a transformative impact and improve outcomes for society, providing a blueprint which can be scaled across the country.
Princess Kate, 41, took a tour of the brand-new facility. The royal mom learned more about the specific support residents will receive and spent time with staff and other partners who have pushed the pilot program to this point. The Princess of Wales heard about how Hope Street will uniquely prevent the trauma of mothers and children being separated in the justice system, before meeting women with lived experience
Construction on Hope Street began in March 2021 and the project was completed this month, according to One Small Thing. The welcoming residential hub features airy communal and private spaces, an onsite nursery and play places for children. One Small Thing’s evidence-based approach is being monitored by The University of Southampton, The Prison Reform Trust and EP:IC, the palace said.
Princess Kate’s stop is her latest family-focused engagement as she continues raising awareness about the importance of the early childhood years and the lifelong impact this critical period has. To take this mission to the next level, the Princess of Wales launched the landmark “Shaping Us” campaign in January. The effort is an offshoot of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, which she established in June 2021.
The Royal Foundation defines the long-term Shaping Us initiative as “a major new awareness-raising campaign to increase public understanding of the crucial importance of the first five years of a child’s life.” The campaign hopes to transform “the issue from one of scientific interest to one of the most strategically important topics of our time,” a statement says.
In May, Kate made two back-to-back engagements in London to meet young people who have experienced the care system and the adults who step up to support them. The outings at the Foundling Museum and the charity Kinship illuminated the importance of loving relationships for children who have experienced adversity, trauma, or bereavement.
According to a statement from Kensington Palace, there are over 162,000 children in England and Wales today growing up in “kinship care,” or being fostered, adopted or cared for by extended family and friends. Many of the youth have faced trauma, and benefit from the love of family or friends who welcome them into their lives.