The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge has granted nearly £1.8 million in supporting the frontline community and the nation’s mental health, through a bespoke fund which was set up as part of the organisation’s response to COVID-19. The grants – made to ten leading charities at the heart of mental health and frontline support – build on the work that the Foundation has already done in recent months to support those on the frontline of the pandemic in the UK, and the mental health sector.

As a result of The Royal Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, and in partnership with NHS England, individual grief trauma counselling from Hospice UK will be available for all frontline workers. In addition, over 250,000 emergency responders will have access to peer-to-peer support, training and mental health resources from Mind’s Blue Light mental health support programme, building on the support that is already available from other sources, including employers and Our Frontline. To support the nation’s mental health during this time, but also in the months and years ahead, grants have been given to mental health charities to increase their capacity for helpline and chat services to meet rising demand. Together, the grants made through the COVID-19 Response Fund ensure that:

  • All emergency responders will have access to individual grief trauma counselling from Hospice UK;
  • Over 250,000 emergency responders will have access to peer-to-peer support through Mind’s Blue Light programme;
  • The Ambulance Staff Charity will be able to provide an additional 2,780 hours of support for the UK’s ambulance community;
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) will be able to respond to 2,300 more contacts each month;
  • Shout 85258 will be able to have 250 more text message conversations with people who are struggling to cope every day;
  • The Mix will expand their group chat service for young people to seven days per week;
  • Teachers, children and their parents will be supported to cope with mental health needs including self-care and managing anxiety as schools re-open, thanks to training and resources
    from Place2Be and The Anna Freud Centre; and
  • An additional 20,000 new mothers will be supported by Best Beginnings, thanks to a community mental health training project to reach pregnant women and new parents.

Funding will also build the capacity of the Heads Together partners as they work together on campaigning activity to directly address the nation’s mental health as the population adjusts to life after COVID-19.

Earlier this week, The Duke and Duchess spoke to four representatives from organisations which will benefit from the fund, including two emergency responders and two mental health counsellors. They heard about the challenges facing organisations and how mental health support will be needed both for those working on the frontline and those delivering vital support to the nation.

Speaking to frontline workers and mental health counsellors earlier in the week, The Duchess of Cambridge said:

“Over recent months we have all been in awe of the incredible work that frontline staff and emergency responders have been doing in response to COVID-19, but we know that for many of them, their families, and for thousands of others across the UK, the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health.”

The Duke added:

“It’s great to hear how The Royal Foundation is supporting you and many others to build resilience and give you the networks you need through its COVID-19 Response Fund, which will help ten leading charities continue their crucial work.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Their Royal Highnesses have brought together partners from across the mental health, frontline and bereavement sectors to understand for themselves the challenges faced by these sectors during COVID-19 and to identify what support was needed. The Royal Foundation has also consulted extensively with these sectors, identifying where it is uniquely placed to add value. In April, the Foundation came together with four leading mental health charities, Samaritans, Mind, Hospice UK and Shout 85258, to launch Our Frontline, an initiative designed to ensure that frontline staff and key workers have access to vital mental health resources and support. Today’s grants build on and expand the support already being offered by Our Frontline.

Mind, a key partner of the Our Frontline coalition, successfully ran a Blue Light mental health support programme from 2015 to 2019 which was available to all emergency responders. The Royal Foundation commissioned a research project which was conducted by King’s College London and the Open University which indicated this was the most identifiable support initiative of its kind across the emergency responder community. With The Royal Foundation’s grant, Mind will work with members of the emergency services to refresh its Blue Light mental health programme and adapt key programme elements to respond to the COVID-19 context. This will enable it to boost peer-to-peer support across the emergency services, bringing emergency responders together with others with shared experiences and allowing them to use their experiences to help each other.

As part of The Royal Foundation Fund, TASC has been awarded a £268,000 grant to support the wellbeing of the UK's lifesaving ambulance community.

The Royal Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund is The Royal Foundation’s first crisis response fund and reinforces The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s ongoing commitment to the frontline community and the nation’s mental health – two of the areas that will continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the months and years ahead.

Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, said:

“We are delighted to be receiving this funding from The Royal Foundation. The grant will go a long way in enabling us to continue to provide support to those working in the emergency services, through our Blue Light Programme. It is so important, perhaps now more than ever, that the right information, advice, peer support services and training is easily accessible for  our hardworking key workers, especially those of us who might be experiencing poor mental health.”

Diane Scott, Chair of The Ambulance Staff Charity, said:

“The grant from The Royal Foundation will make a vast difference to the level of support we are able to provide to the ambulance community to help them cope with the impacts of COVID-19. The job they do can be stressful even in normal times and for TASC to be able to offer additional support to help cope with the increased pressures as a result of COVID-19 is fantastic news and we are so grateful to The Royal Foundation for their support.”

Chris Martin, CEO at The Mix, said:

“For many young people, the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the sudden loss of the daily companionship of friends and the personal support provided by schools, health services and youth clubs that are so vital to maintaining their mental health. As a digital service, The Mix was uniquely placed to scale up its life-saving work to meet this increased demand from young people with nowhere else to go. With uncertain times ahead young people remain vulnerable. We are hugely grateful to The Royal Foundation for their incredible donation that will enable us to continue growing our essential work to support the mental health of even more young people.”

Alison Baum, CEO of Best Beginnings, said:

“All of us at Best Beginnings are thrilled that The Royal Foundation has chosen to fund this important project. The pandemic has led to greatly increased levels of anxiety and isolation for parents across the UK and in collaboration with many charities and frontline professionals we are here to help. A COVID-19 survey we conducted with parents using our NHS approved Baby Buddy app revealed it is helping them navigate these turbulent times in many different ways. This vital funding will enable us to deliver an engaging Digital Outreach Programme as well as maternal mental health training with Home-Start volunteers and midwives. Together we’ll ensure that 20,000 more parents will benefit from the personalised, supportive and empowering daily information, 300 films in Baby Buddy designed to give them the knowledge and confidence to look after themselves and give their children the best start in life.”

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