Kate Middleton and Prince William Mark Special Anniversary with Zoom Call to Crisis Text Volunteers

"You have been doing a fantastic job keeping Shout moving forward," the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton and Prince William call Shout Volunteers. Photo: Kensington Palace

Kate Middleton and Prince William are marking a special milestone by chatting to volunteers of a text crisis line coping with concerned callers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As the Shout crisis line reached its first anniversary, William and Kate took part in a video call with five volunteers, who told them about the role the service is playing during the crisis.

Thanking them, William, 37, said, “You guys are the trailblazers, you have been doing a fantastic job keeping Shout moving forward, so well done and thank you for all your hard work; we really appreciate it.”

During the call, the royal parents heard how young people, especially, are finding it difficult during lockdown to access the usual mental wellbeing services. The couple was told that supportive messages from trained volunteers at the texting service is making a difference.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine Duchess of Cambridge
Kensington Palace

When Princess Kate asked them what their message would be to encourage more people to get in touch, volunteer Jo Irwin said, “We’re here. Don’t think that it’s not valid because of everything else that is going on in the world.”

Kate also asked whether people feel they receive “reassurance” from the service.

“A lot of texters want to feel heard,” said volunteer Alexis Caught. “The other services aren’t there to listen to them at the moment. A lot of people don’t have friends they can see face-to-face. The ability to do drop a quick message to us . . . is priceless.”

In the last year, 1,800 volunteers have taken part in 300,000 text conversations, two-thirds of which have been with people aged 25 or under. Callers in the U.K. can text "Shout" to 85258 to speak to a trained crisis volunteer.

To mark the anniversary, a Shout crisis volunteer is taking over @KensingtonRoyal’s Instagram stories on Saturday, May 16. It’s the first time that their social media site has partnered with another organization in this way.

Shout’s CEO Victoria Hornby said, “The fact that Shout has been able to quickly start to help so many people move from a crisis point to a calmer place is down to the skill and dedication of our volunteers and the support we have had from the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and our other partners.”

“We have seen during the COVID-19 lockdown how young people find it incredibly useful to have a neutral person to listen confidentially to their worries and give independent support, we now want even more people to text 85258, whatever their crisis.”

William and Kate also received an update on how things were progressing since Shout teamed up with leading mental health charities Mind, Samaritans and Hospice UK to create Our Frontline.

William said that one of the reasons that they launched Our Frontline was because a lot of people in the medical world didn’t go looking for support because they believe they are ones who are meant to be giving that support.

“[That] is wrong, but that is how they feel," he said.

Kate Middleton and Sophie Wessex team up for nurses
Kate Middleton. Kensington Palace

Caught said in a statement, “The unique support that Shout is able to provide to people in crisis is crucial at all times, but now more than ever it can serve as a lifeline to those most in need — whatever they're going through, big or small.”

“Without the hundreds of volunteers who give up their time to provide help and reassurance to others, the service simply wouldn’t be able to function. That is why it was so great to hear the Duke and Duchess speak so positively not only about Shout’s work but also encouraging people to get support with their mental health. We want to send a very clear message to anyone who is looking for someone to reach out to – we are here to listen to you anytime, anywhere about any problem.”

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Shout launched in May 2019 by William and Kate and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with an initial $3.7 million from the Royal Foundation and is a legacy of the couple’s Heads Together mental health campaign that they ran with Harry.

The call from William and Kate came as Harry and Meghan joined a video conference with the team from the American Crisis Text Line – a sister-organization of Shout. Harry and Meghan, who moved to Los Angeles in March, thanked the staffers and encouraged them and they take calls through the pandemic.

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