The Duchess of Cambridge has said she has been in “awe” of the work of emergency service responders, as she and her husband announce a £1.8 million fund to protect the mental health of those who have worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prince William and Kate’s Royal Foundation will make the huge donation to a series of charities, to help provide more mental health support to frontline workers who may have been impacted by their work during the pandemic.
Teachers, children and parents will also be supported by the fund, with charities working to help ease anxieties as they return to school in the autumn.
The royal couple met two emergency responders and two mental health counsellors whose organisations will benefit from the fund, at a private event at Sandringham earlier this week.
Kate said: “Over recent months we have all been in awe of the incredible work that frontline staff and emergency responders have been doing in response to COVID-19, but we know that for many of them, their families, and for thousands of others across the UK, the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health.”
William added: “It’s great to hear how The Royal Foundation is supporting you and many others to build resilience and give you the networks you need through its COVID-19 Response Fund, which will help 10 leading charities continue their crucial work.”
The grants will ensure Blue Light, a mental health project by charity Mind, can continue supporting more than 250,000 people working or volunteering in the ambulance, fire, police, and search and rescue services, with peer-to-peer support and mental health resources.
The Ambulance Staff Charity will also receive financial help, enabling them to provide an additional 2,780 hours of support for crews.
Shout 85258, the text based crisis helpline which the Duke of Cambridge himself volunteers on, will have enough funding for another 250 text message conversations with those struggling to cope every day.
Best Beginnings, which supports new mothers, will be given funding to reach 20,000 more people, through a community mental health training project.
Place2Be and the Anna Freud centre, two charities the duchess has worked closely with, are also being supported to help teachers, children and parents as schools re-open.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made the mental health of emergency workers their key priority early in the lockdown, somewhat shifting the focus of their Royal Foundation.
They launched ‘Our Frontline’ to support people who were continuing to work while many were in lockdown.
Our Frontline is a combination of one-to-one support and online resources for any NHS workers, carers, emergency services personnel and key workers whose psychological wellbeing comes under pressure.
Alison Baum, chief executive of Best Beginnings, said: “The pandemic has led to greatly increased levels of anxiety and isolation for parents across the UK and in collaboration with many charities and frontline professionals, we are here to help.
“This vital funding will enable us to deliver an engaging digital outreach programme as well as maternal mental health training with Home-Start volunteers and midwives.
“Together we’ll ensure that 20,000 more parents will benefit from the personalised, supportive and empowering daily information – 300 films in (our app) Baby Buddy designed to give them the knowledge and confidence to look after themselves and give their children the best start in life.”
Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted to be receiving this funding from The Royal Foundation. The grant will go a long way in enabling us to continue to provide support to those working in the emergency services, through our Blue Light Programme.
“It is so important, perhaps now more than ever, that the right information, advice, peer support services and training is easily accessible for our hardworking key workers, especially those of us who might be experiencing poor mental health.”
The 10 charities which will receive grants are: Mind; Hospice UK; The Ambulance Staff Charity; Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM); Best Beginnings; The Anna Freud Centre; Place2Be; Shout 85258; The Mix; YoungMinds.