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The Duke of Cambridge attends the October Club dinner

17th October 2012

The Duke of Cambridge (right), patron of St Giles Trust, talks with a guest at the annual October Club dinner in aid of the St Giles Trust, in London.

The Duke of Cambridge (right), patron of St Giles Trust, talks with a guest at the annual October Club dinner in aid of the St Giles Trust, in London.

The Duke of Cambridge tonight praised the work of a charity which seeks to prevent offenders continuing their involvement in crime.

His Royal Highness attended a dinner in aid of the St Giles Trust, which helps people in trouble with the law resettle and break the cycle of offending.

The Duke, who is Patron of the Trust's 50th anniversary, 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 ex-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.

Mr Palmer, a senior case worker with the Trust, who left prison in 2007, said: "Education in prison saved my life. 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'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.