The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have marked Volunteers’ Week with a video call, speaking to volunteers across the country to thank them for their efforts.
Prince William and Kate spoke with those who freely give their time to help others from Conscious Youth, based in West Yorkshire, and Machynlleth Community Corona Response from Powys, Wales.
During the video call, William joked about coronavirus panic buying, asking: “Can any of you explain to me why all of us were bulk-buying toilet roll?”
Catherine asked the Yorkshire-based group what ‘themes arise’ from their work. The response was worries about gang crime and mental health.
One young volunteer, Cane, revealed he had begun helping out with chess games and reading, prompting the Duchess to ask for lessons. “You’ll have to teach me Cane, I’m terrible!” she said.
The royal couple also joked about the challenges of home schooling; Prince George is 6, and in Year 2 at St Thomas’s Battersea, while Princess Charlotte is coming to the end of her Reception year at the same school.
The Prince admitted that he had found some of George’s work daunting at times. “I struggle with year 2 maths,” he said.
William and Kate also spoke to a group of neighbours in mid-Wales who have been offering help with shopping, cooking and deliveries during lockdown.
120 volunteers in the Welsh community offered “a lifeline” to people, Kate said of their ‘small acts of kindness’.
“It’s National Volunteers’ Week, and we want to say a big thank-you from both of us,” The Queen’s grandson said. “Thank you for all the volunteering you’re doing, thank you for all the time and effort you’re putting in.”
In the past few weeks, The Duke and Duchess and their children have been playing their part in the national volunteering effort for the pandemic. In April, the Cambridges took food parcels to isolated pensioners across the Sandringham Estate.
But the Duke also revealed that he has trained as a Shout text-line volunteer, offering online support to those who need it.
Shout85258 is the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text line, launched in May 2019 by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. £3 million was invested in the service from the Royal Foundation.
“I’m going to share a little secret with you guys, but I’m actually on the platform volunteering,” the Duke told them.
It was initially set up to help frontline emergency workers deal with difficult experiences that they may face at work, but is now open to anyone who needs immediate crisis support. You can simply text ‘shout’ to 85258 if you need help (UK only) and is free and confidential.
Previously speaking to volunteers, the future King revealed his plans to train in September 2019: “I’m aiming to set myself up for it, I really want to do it. Even if I can only do an hour on my laptop. I want to do the training and be able to help.”
The Duke is now one of more than 2000 Crisis Volunteers who are ‘trained to support anyone, anytime, whatever their crisis may be’.
More than 330,000 text conversations have taken place between volunteers and those needing mental health support. Around 65% of users are under 25.
It is understood that Kensington Palace had previously been reluctant to say whether William was volunteering for the service because it feared Shout might be overloaded by people hoping to discuss their troubles with the Duke himself. However, Shout is now geared up to handle an expected increase in demand for the service.
Prince William would also be using a pseudonym when on the platform, we understand.
As part of the Royal Voluntary Service’s NHS Volunteer Responders scheme, the Duchess has also taken part in ‘check in and chat’ calls.
You can watch the call below: