Earlier this week on Wednesday, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a joint video call to the Frontline Workers who are being supported by Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ counselling and bereavement support line. It was The Duchess of Cambridge’s first official public (Virtual) appearance of the year 2021.
The United Kingdom went under another lockdown due to the worldwide pandemic caused by the Coronavirus. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who moved to Anmer Hall with their three kids ahead of Christmas, will be undertaking engagements virtually for the foreseeable future.
During the video call, William and Catherine spoke with frontline workers and counsellors about the mental health impact of the COVID-19 crisis for those working on the frontline, and why it is vital that they are able to reach out for support at such a critical time.
Mortality rates in both hospitals and the community have risen significantly across the past year as a result of COVID-19, causing many health and social care professionals and emergency responders to deal with levels of death they will not have experienced at any other time during their careers. Just ‘B’ counsellors Tony Collins and Caroline Francis spoke to The Duke and Duchess about the toll that the pandemic is having on frontline staff, with service users often citing exhaustion and the relentless nature of the crisis as their reasons for calling.
Prince William during the call talked about his experience as a former search and rescue helicopter pilot,
Some of it I noticed from my previous spell flying with the air ambulance with the team. When you see so much death and so much bereavement it does impact how you see the world. It is very interesting what you said about being able to see things in a different light….
That is what really worries me about the front line staff at the moment is that you are so under the cosh at the moment and so pressurised and you’re seeing such high levels of sadness, trauma, death, that it impacts your own life and your own family life because it is always there.
In 2020, a support line ‘Our Frontline’ was set up by The Royal Foundation to support the frontline workers who are working hard during the challenging and difficult period. The Just ‘B’ counselling and trauma helpline can be accessed daily between 8 AM and 8 PM at 0300 303 4434. The service is supported by The Royal Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. The Royal Foundation’s support for Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ service, was announced in July 2020 as part of our COVID-19 Response Fund, a series of grants made to leading mental health charities to increase their capacity for the helpline and chat services to meet rising demands as a consequence of the pandemic.
Palace said, “Bereavement is never easy, especially for frontline workers during these unprecedented times. It is so important to have services like Just ‘B’, who provide a listening ear for those coping with the loss of colleagues, loved ones, and people they care for.“
Providing financial support through its COVID-19 Response Fund, The Royal Foundation has partnered with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care to help fund Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ support line, helping to make vital resources available when they are needed most to NHS staff, social care workers, carers and all emergency services personnel. Operating between 8 am-8 pm, 365 days a year, Just ‘B’ provides confidential, free to access bereavement and wellbeing support related to anxiety, trauma and the impact of encountering a significant number of deaths, in addition, to support for personal bereavement and loss.
During the call, NHS staff and emergency responders spoke about their personal experiences with mental health, and how services such as Just ‘B’ have allowed them to cope better and begin to come to terms with their grief. They also acknowledged the need to continue to encourage frontline workers to utilise mental health resources, with stigma preventing staff from seeking support for themselves during such a busy period for health and social care providers and the emergency services.
From Mirror’s report, “Phil Spencer, Wellbeing Inspector of Cleveland Police, told the royal couple how police officers need to be better at accessing mental health services after being “seen as villains” for handing out coronavirus lockdown fines.
He said: “Don’t get me wrong, the NHS rightly are absolute heroes and my heart goes out to the London Ambulance Service and the rest of them, but we are seen as the villains sometimes – again can’t do right for doing wrong – having to put the fines out and lay down the law. Perhaps further down the line when all this is gone we’re going to have some broken police officers.”
Because we are too busy focusing on protecting the most vulnerable people in communities but hand on heart, I think our service is the most vulnerable people right now and it is horrible to see. We need so much help.
Stressing the importance of frontline worker’s mental health, The Duke of Cambridge said,
“People need to understand how you are normal human beings doing a brilliant job in a very, very difficult time and I hope this service gives people the outlet that they need.”
Talking about how easy it could be for the frontline workers to forget to look after their own self while serving the frontline, The Duchess of Cambridge asked the frontline workers,
“What you think can be done to help remind us all to priotize that and particularly those working on the frontline under a huge amount of pressure, what do you think we all could do to help?”
For the first appearance of the year, The Duchess of Cambridge was wearing her Glen Check with Black Corduroy Smythe 2 Button Blazer that she first wore in 2018 at a Coach Core event. The single-breasted silhouette has a traditional riding blazer feel, featuring a contrast collar, flattering pocket flaps and oversized leather buttons.
On the same day, The Duchess of Cambridge also attended a meeting with Early Years Group. Last week, Kensington Palace released this gorgeous picture of The Duchess from the Royal Train Tour marking Catherine’s 39th birthday.