A WOKING charity supporting the homeless welcomed a visit from the Earl and Countess of Wessex last week.

Their Royal Highnesses joined volunteers at York Road Project’s temporary facility at the HG Wells Conference Centre.

Since the start of the pandemic, York Road Project has assisted those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Woking and surrounding areas.

After moving to the HG Wells centre in March last year, the project has supported more than 170 individual clients, taking in couples and those with dogs so that no one had to sleep rough.

The charity had to redesign its service, transforming from an 11-bed shelter to providing accommodation for 32 clients.

This included 10 purpose-built pods to accommodate the numbers at the start of the pandemic. The project also continued to support a further 20 clients in their move-on accommodation.

The Earl and Countess volunteered in the kitchen, preparing clients’ lunchtime snacks, which included banana muffins, sausage rolls, cheese and onion twists and ginger biscuits. They also joined staff and volunteers to pack weekly goody bags for clients.

These contain varying items, depending on donations, but include fruit, snacks, toiletries and the necessities to make hot drinks. They then had an opportunity to speak with staff and fellow volunteers.

Beryl Keeley, the chair of the trustees, presented the Earl and Countess of Wessex with a goody bag which included a “Grow Me, Be Happy” pack.

The campaign encourages nurturing plants, which is known to improve emotional and physical wellbeing, and is part of the project’s mission to raise awareness of good mental health at work and at home.

Cherisse Dealtry, CEO of York Road Project, said: “It was lovely to welcome back the Countess of Wessex to volunteer again and to meet HRH the Earl of Wessex for the first time.

“We are honoured to have both of them come and volunteer with us for the morning and hear about the work we continue to do here in Woking.’’