The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have warned about the “lasting” mental health impact of Covid-19 as their foundation awarded almost £1.8 million to support frontline workers and others affected by the pandemic.
Kate said the couple are “in awe” of the efforts of frontline and emergency responders during the coronavirus outbreak, as they spoke to some of the 10 organisations who have benefited from the grants.
The couple’s Royal Foundation Covid-19 Response Fund is helping a range of projects, from ensuring all emergency workers have access to individual grief trauma from Hospice UK, to helping early years charity Best Beginnings support an extra 20,000 new mothers.
Kate and William spoke privately earlier this week with two emergency responders and two mental health counsellors whose organisations are being supported by the fund.
During the open-air meeting at the Queen’s Sandringham estate, the duchess told them: “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 also ensure Blue Light, a project from mental health charity Mind, is able to support more than 250,000 working or volunteering in the ambulance, fire, police, and search and rescue services, giving them access to peer-to-peer support, training and mental health resources.
The Ambulance Staff Charity will be able to provide an additional 2,780 hours of support for crews, and teachers, pupils and their parents will be helped to cope with issues like anxiety as schools reopen thanks to training and resources from Place2Be and The Anna Freud Centre.
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.”
Soon after the lockdown William and Kate pledged to make supporting the mental health of frontline workers battling coronavirus their “top priority”.
And their Royal Foundation formally backed the Our Frontline initiative, a project from leading charities and organisations which provides round-the-clock mental health support to everyone from teachers and nurses to bus drivers.
Mind, a key partner of the Our Frontline coalition, is refreshing its Blue Light Programme, which ran from 2015 to 2019, to respond to Covid-19 after a report, commissioned by the Royal Foundation, identified it as having had a significant impact across the emergency services sector.
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.”