It is a great honour to be here with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for one of your moments marking your 150 years. The R.I.C.S. is one of this country's great institutions, and the link between you and The Royal Family is one that we treasure as much as we hope you do.
Your Royal Charter mandates you to do more than just promote a narrow set of aspirations for chartered surveyors. It requires you to consider and provide a wider social benefit to your profession. It is in this capacity that I am pleased to be here with you today.
Back in March, at the LandAid 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner, I spoke about my passionate concern for those young people who have nowhere to call home.
I threw down a challenge to all of you working in the property industry to join with LandAid, its charity, to tackle and end youth homelessness.
So, it gives me great pleasure to be standing here today to launch R.I.C.S’s Pledge150 campaign to raise 2.25 million for LandAid.
This will enable LandAid to provide 150 bed spaces for young people currently at risk of homelessness.
In making this pledge, I am proud to say that the R.I.C.S. has got behind a bold call to action from your own industry charity – one that speaks so powerfully to the terms of your Royal Charter.
And you have come together – an extraordinary range of professions and professionals, from global businesses to regional players, from household names to sole traders – to achieve something truly remarkable.
Homelessness affects every single community across the country. Shelter’s figures this month must shock us all – at least 1 in 200 people in this country sleep rough or do not have a secure home.
Yet the figures ignore – indeed, they cannot even count – those young people who are often called “sofa-surfers”. When a young person is forced to leave home, their first option can be to stay with someone, anyone, who has an available place to sleep.
As you will have seen in LandAid’s video earlier, quite quickly this can mean depending on strangers, increasing the risks of being exposed to drugs, and of falling victim to predators.
Unrecorded, unnoticed, and too-often ignored – these young people are the “hidden homeless”.
Centrepoint, a charity that I have been proud to support for many years, estimates that well over 80,000 young people experience homelessness every single year.
When I meet young people in this situation, I see the very human face of this outrageous statistic, I hear the individual stories of young people who have lived through, or are living through, this situation now.
I am determined to do what I can to help end the situation where bright, able, and ambitious young people are left vulnerable and without a future.
As the global body championing the highest standards for professional surveyors everywhere, the R.I.C.S. has a unique part to play in shaping the future.
Your anniversary provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate 150 years of surveying achievements. I hope the anniversary fosters a real and well-deserved pride in your profession. I hope it inspires a new generation of young women and young men, from diverse backgrounds, to become the surveyors of the future.
I know how important delivering on time and to budget is to you all. Here, today, you are making a pledge – so no backsliding on this one! I will be taking a very close interest in your progress throughout the year.
Thank you so much for supporting the cause. Thank you for inviting me today – and a very happy birthday to you all.