The Duchess of Cambridge virtually met with staff and residents at Action on Addiction's Clouds House in Wiltshire, England

By Simon Perry
June 08, 2020 05:00 PM
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Kate Middleton chats to staff at Clouds House addiction center
Kensington Palace

Kate Middleton embarked on a virtual tour of a treatment center run by one of her key charities to learn more about the rise in addictive behavior during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate, 38, spoke with the staff and residents at the Clouds House center in Wiltshire, England, last Thursday to see how they've weathered new challenges amid the current health crisis.

"When things get back to normal, I'd love to come and say hello to the team and everyone down there as well," Kate said at the start of the call.

The royal mom of three was told that as many as a quarter of British adults may be drinking more as a result of the lockdown, according to a new survey from Action on Addiction, a U.K.-based charity that works with people affected by drug and alcohol addiction.

She also dropped in on a group chat with clients staying at the center and spoke with those accessing the center's online aftercare service. During the virtual call, Action on Addiction’s chief executive Graham Beech took Princess Kate around the center and spoke about the importance of reaching out for help during the pandemic.

"The worrying thing is all those people who aren't necessarily reaching out who are struggling," Kate added. "It's about making sure they can reach out and you are there to help and support them."

"It's a lifeline to so many people and it's great that they're able to continue the support, whether remotely or those receiving treatment at the center now during lockdown, and finding life-changing support. Well done!" Kate said.

At the end of the call, Kate was led through the building to the outside where dozens of socially-distant staffers waved hello.

"Oh my goodness, hello everybody! " she said. "Thank you, everyone."

Kate Middleton
Kensington Palace

A national YouGov poll that the charity commissioned indicates that addictive behaviors are rising as a result of the pandemic. It also found that 39 percent of those who say they are in recovery said they suffered a reoccurrence of their addictive behavior or relapse in their recovery. The survey also showed an increase in addictive behavior in the 12-25 age group.

Staff members went on to tell Kate how they've adapted their treatments and told her of their concern that there may be a surge in demand for treatment as lockdown eases.

“It doesn’t come as a surprise that some people are struggling to maintain recovery from addiction as a result of lockdown. We know that addiction feeds on isolation, and the precautionary measures that are in place because of COVID-19 may create the circumstances upon which addiction thrives," said Graham Beech, Chief Executive of Action on Addiction.

"Our survey provides valuable insight into the looming pressure on services during and following lockdown. It is clear that individuals and families need help now. They’re also going to need additional support as the lockdown eases. Whilst the majority of respondents may not be developing an addiction, the picture from a public health and social perspective is one of concern.”

Kate talks to Action on Addiction staffers (from clockwise) Chris, Claire and Lucy
Kensington Palace

Kate, who has been involved with Action on Addiction for seven years, has said her experience with the organization was a catalyst for her interest in early childhood development. Beech has praised her for sending out “a really important message that addiction is not something that should be hidden away behind closed doors," he said,  adding to PEOPLE, “The more people talk about it, the more they can find the help and get the treatment that they need.”

She has “helped us to bring addiction out of the shadows and encouraged other people to rally ’round and support what we’re trying to do at a time when addiction is becoming ever more complex and growing in volume,” he adds.

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The royal made her first visit to Clouds House in 2012. Since then she has also visited the charity's facilities in Essex, London, Liverpool and Wiltshire.