Today, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited the Newham Ambulance Station in East London. Prince William and Duchess Catherine met with ambulance staff and paramedics and heard about their experiences of working during one of the most challenging periods in the London Ambulance Service‘s history. They met crews who have responded throughout the pandemic as well as ambulance staff who have supported their colleagues’ mental health and welfare as Service faced the pandemic head-on.
In the first days of the new year, the 999 call handlers were answering in excess of 8,000 calls a day – compared to around 5,500 calls on a ‘normal’ very busy winter day – while 111 health advisers were dealing with twice as many calls as usual.
The London Ambulance Service has received £100,000 of funding from NHS Charities Together, of which The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are joint Patrons, to enable them to continue to run the trucks and expand their provision in order to meet the needs of crew and volunteers during this challenging time. The funding has also been used to create isolation packs and food for staff across LAS sites. Over the last year, The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has worked to support those on the frontline of the pandemic, including through the provision of grants to leading charities at the heart of mental health and frontline support as part of a bespoke COVID relief fund.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met with Paramedic Jahrin Khan and learned how she dealt with the pressures of responding to the Covid-19 crisis and the impact of having to isolate herself from her family. The couple also face-timed with Jahrin’s father Abu who is in Bangladesh.
From Daily Mail’s report,
Chatting to paramedic Jay Khan’s father Abu in Bangladesh, William asked him: ‘You must be very proud of your daughter.’
Abu replied: ‘Yes we are all very proud of her.’
The royals also joined a call with Jay’s sister Nasrin and granddad Baharam in the UK. William told them: ‘She works very hard and she’s looking forward to seeing you soon.’
Kate added: ‘Hopefully it won’t be too long before you can all meet up and see each other again.’
The couple laughed as Jay told her family: ‘Say bye now. Let them go.’
William quipped: ‘We can stay here and do some more family chatting if that works?’
The Royal couple also met paramedic Shani Smith. Shani, a trained mental health worker, has been helping to run one of the special tea trucks to serve ambulance staff and medics over the past year. Launched in February 2020, the tea trucks travel to hospitals and control centres across London each day, serving hot drinks and snacks to ambulance staff and volunteers and offering them the chance to take a moment to pause and refresh. Willim and Catherine discussed how she has been using her training to support her colleagues. She told them, “It’s so much more than a cup of tea. The ‘Tea Trucks’ are sometimes the only way crews can get refreshments during the lockdown and they offer the chance to talk and unburden if you have been at stressful incidents. This is as important as ever in the past few months.”
William and Catherine also heard more about the mental health and well-being support station established in response to the pandemic to support mental and physical health and well-being, including drop-in sessions and well-being spaces, alongside some of the wider initiatives provided by the London Ambulance Service including their fleet of Wellbeing Tea Trucks. About the visit, the Station Chair, Heather Lawrence OBE said,
It is very much appreciated that Their Royal Highnesses took time to visit and thank our staff who have worked throughout the pandemic often in very stressful and distressing circumstances.
The Couple also visited a ‘Wellbeing Garden’ in a corner of the station created by staff at Newham themselves as their space for quiet reflection and peace after busy shifts. Here they talked with staff who had spent long periods away from their families while working on the frontline about dealing with the pressure of the past year.
The Duchess of Cambridge chose an all-brown look for the visit.
The Duchess of Cambridge was wearing her Massimo Dutti Limited Edition Button Cashmere Wool Camel Coat that she first wore in January 2020 when she visited Cardiff and Surrey to launch 5 Big Questions Survey.
Underneath the coat, she was wearing a matching turtleneck dress.
The Duchess teamed up the outfit with her Kiki McDonough Citrine Pear Drop Earrings.
Catherine was also carrying her Métier London Roma Bag that debuted in December 2020 when she arrived in Batley for the third stop of The Royal Train Tour.
The Duchess of Cambridge was wearing Amaia Kids Yellow Pepper Adult Reusable Face Mask.
Catherine was wearing a new pair of brown Gianvito Rossi 85 suede pumps.