The Duke of Cambridge has revealed he has been secretly counselling people contacting crisis helpline Shout 85258 – a round-the-clock text messaging helpline developed by his Royal Foundation.
Prince William, 37, and Kate Middleton, 38, spoke to volunteers in different parts of the country to thank them for the support that they provide to their communities, during a Zoom call to marked Volunteers’ Week from their Amner Hall home on Wednesday.
The duke and duchess marked the service’s first anniversary by speaking to some of its volunteers via video call, and William said: ‘I’m going to share a little secret with you guys, but I’m actually on the platform volunteering.’
Meanwhile Kate put on a chic display in a £255 white broderie anglaise Mabel shirt by M.I.H Jeans, which features scallop trim on the neck and puffed sleeves, previously worn for a visit to her garden at the Chelsea Flower Show last May.
Kate has also been helping others and has taken part in ‘check in and chat’ calls with those self-isolating or vulnerable as part of the Royal Voluntary Service’s NHS Volunteer Responders scheme.
William, who has not disclosed if they have sent their children back to school, admitted that he struggles with Prince George’s year 2 maths homework – calling it daunting at times’.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge revealed they’ve been answering helpline calls and text messages from their Amner Hall home, during a Zoom call to marked Volunteers’ Week on Wednesday
Kate and William were pictured calling volunteers from two organisations that rely on their volunteer networks to help run and support their services: Conscious Youth which is based in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, and Machynlleth Community Corona Response in Powys, Wales.
The duke is one of more than 2,000 crisis volunteers who are trained to support anyone, whatever their crisis, chatting via text message and helping people sort through their feelings by asking questions, empathising and listening.
The Cambridges and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex helped to launch the crisis line in May last year, investing £3 million in the service through their Royal Foundation.
More than 300,000 text conversations have taken place between volunteers and people needing mental health support, with around 65% of those texting aged under 25.
It is understood that Kensington Palace had previously been reluctant to say whether William was volunteering for the service because it feared Shout might be overloaded by people hoping to discuss their troubles with the future king.
But Shout is now geared up to handle an expected increase in demand for the service.
The couple marked Volunteers Week by chatting with the Machynlleth Community Corona Response Group, and in a lighter moment the duke joked about coronavirus panic buying, asking: ‘Can any of you explain to me why all of us were bulk buying toilet roll?’
Kate and William were pictured calling volunteers from two organisations that rely on their volunteer networks to help run and support their services. Seen: Conscious Youth which is based in Kirklees, West Yorkshire
William opted for a bright blue shirt, as he joined Kate – who looked stylish with her hair swept back into a ponytail and a pair of gold drop hoop earrings, for the phonecall from their home office in Norfolk.
The royals spoke to charity Conscious Youth, an organisation founded in 2016 working with young people from mainly black and other ethnic minority backgrounds in West Yorkshire, and joked about the challenges of home schooling.
The couple have not disclosed if they have sent their children back to school, but William admitted some of Prince George’s homework has proved daunting at times.
‘I struggle with Year 2 maths,’ he said.
Sophie Simpson, 38, who co-founded Conscious Youth with Serena Johnson, 35, said: ‘The duke and duchess totally agreed that teaching Year 2 maths was very difficult. I could agree with them because I teach that as well and I’m struggling.’
During their call with the organisation, the couple heard about the importance of encouraging the young people who use their services to carry out voluntary work themselves, and heard from two of Conscious Youth’s young volunteers about the impact that volunteering has had on them, and how their work has changed as a result of COVID-19.
Next, they spoke with volunteers from the Machynlleth Community Corona Response (MCCR), one of the many mutual aid groups that have sprung up across the country in recent months to provide local support to those in need.
The pair heard from some of the 100-strong team of volunteers about how the group is helping to produce 3-D printed visors, scrubs and facemasks as well as growing more produce for meals which are cooked and delivered for those in need.
They also heard about their efforts to provide a daily phone line service to help those in need of support with shopping and prescription collections, and facilitating referrals to local befriending groups.
They met Lynda, a 91-year old who reached out to the MCCR for support and Sadie, the volunteer who has helped Lynda while she has been self-isolating.
During the call, William said: ‘It’s National Volunteering Week and I want to say a big thank you from both of us. Thank you for all the volunteering you’re doing, thank you for all the time and effort you’re putting in.
‘It’s been hugely rewarding and important that you guys are doing that and you have been a lifeline to all the people who you’ve helped in the area.’
They spoke with volunteers from the Machynlleth Community Corona Response (MCCR), one of the many mutual aid groups that have sprung up across the country in recent months to provide local support to those in need
Kate added: ‘One of the things that would be amazing is if everyone in their communities was to carry on and still celebrate volunteering in a way that they have been during the pandemic. Everyone’s got something to give back.’
In each of the calls, the couple passed on their thanks for the time and commitment that each volunteer, and those from across the organisations’ wider volunteering networks, give to ensure the provision of support and services within their communities.
Over the past few weeks, The Duke and Duchess have been playing their own part in the national volunteering effort.
In April, Kate, William, Prince George, 6, Princess Charlotte, 4, and Prince Louis, 1, visited the Sandringham Estate where they packed up and delivered food parcels to isolated pensioners in the local area.
William has been volunteering for Shout85258, the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text line which was launched in May 2019 by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex following a £3 million investment from The Royal Foundation.
Kate put on a chic display in a £255 white broderie anglaise Mabel shirt by M.I.H Jeans, which features scallop trim on the neck and puffed sleeves, previously worn for a visit to her garden at the Chelsea Flower Show last May (seen)
Last month, the Duke and Duchess marked the service’s first anniversary by speaking to five Shout volunteers via video call. William revealed to those on the call that he also volunteers for the text service.
Recognising the implications of the COVID-19 outbreak on the mental wellbeing of frontline staff and key workers, Shout has joined forces with leading mental health charities Mind, Samaritans and Hospice UK to create Our Frontline, which provides mental health and bereavement support to frontline staff and key workers. The initiative is supported by The Royal Foundation.
Kate has taken part in ‘check in and chat’ calls with those who are self-isolating or vulnerable as part of the Royal Voluntary Service’s NHS Volunteer Responders scheme which was set up to support the NHS and those must vulnerable to Covid-19.
To date, over 250,000 tasks have been carried out by the charity’s NHS Volunteer responders.