The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made a visit to Newham Ambulance Station in East London yesterday, to discuss front line work during the pandemic, including finding out what different effects the pandemic has had on mental health and wellbeing.
William and Catherine were welcomed by Chair Heather Lawrence, and Deputy Chief Executive Khadir Meer, as well as many of the ambulance staff and crew.
While there, the royal couple were given a tour of the facilities including a ‘Wellbeing Garden’ that is situated in a corner of the station where staff can go spend quiet and peaceful reflection time after very gruelling shifts. It is a welcome respite for those dealing not only with immense workloads but also the stress of being away from family for long periods of time.
Additionally, the Cambridges learned about the different ways that the ambulance station has helped to provide support for all of their staff, including additional wellbeing spaces, drop-in sessions and their largest initiative, a fleet of Wellbeing Tea Trucks.
Beginning in February of 2020, the London Ambulance Service started sending their new tea trucks out to hospitals and control centres across London to provide hot drinks and snacks to volunteers and ambulance staff, while shops and restaurants were closed.
One particular tea truck that Prince William and his wife looked at was named ‘Sir Tom’ in honour of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who did a phenomenal amount of fundraising for NHS Charities Together and was knighted by Her Majesty last year. Sadly, Captain Moore passed away on 2nd February, 2021 aged 100.
The Duke and Duchess are both patrons of NHS Charities Together and the charity has donated £100,000 for supplies and also to furnish new isolation packs as well as food for staff. Staff and crew from the Service volunteer to man the trucks and it gives them the chance to give back to their colleagues who are busy working on the frontlines of the pandemic.
One volunteer, a paramedic named Shani, spoke to the couple and shared how she uses her training to help colleagues who are stressed out. She stated that it is so much more than just a cup of tea that they provide. Many times, the ‘Tea Trucks’ are the only way that crews can get any kind of refreshment and the volunteers are there to talk to and help them unburden themselves from the unimaginable stresses that they are dealing with.
The royal couple were discussing what kind of impact isolating has had on workers when one of the paramedics, Jahrin Khan, asked the royal couple if it would be ok to FaceTime her father Abu in Bangladesh. Jahrin’s father has had to be separated from his family since the lockdown because his mother became ill. The Cambridges agreed and had a lovely albeit short chat with Jahrin’s dad.
After the visit, Heather Lawrence expressed: “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.”
Adding to the discussion, DC Executive Khadir Meer shared: “Our Service has had to work harder than ever over the past year to care for London. It’s vital and extremely rewarding work, but it can take a toll and even the most resilient of us need support at times like these. Looking after our people is essential to continue to care for Londoners.
“This is why we are trying to do everything we can to support the physical and mental health of our teams working under such pressure”
While serving as both an RAF Search and Rescue pilot, and for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, The Duke of Cambridge has experienced first hand the difficulties and stresses that emergency responders deal with. That knowledge has played a part in William’s commitment to supporting the emergency services community with mental health and wellbeing assistance.