William and Kate praise ‘trailblazing’ volunteers at mental health service

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have praised volunteers at a mental health text support service for their “trailblazing” work over the past year.

William and Kate spoke with the chief executive and five volunteers from the 24/7 crisis text service Shout85258 on Wednesday as it marked its first anniversary.

The free service was launched by the couple, along with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, in May 2019 following a £3 million investment from the Royal Foundation.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will temporarily hand their Instagram account over to Shout (Kensington Palace/PA)

To further promote the service, the couple have also agreed for a crisis volunteer from Shout to temporarily take over their official KensingtonRoyal Instagram account on Saturday.

From 10am, Alexis Caught, 30, from east London, will post videos highlighting Shout’s work to William and Kate’s 11.8 million followers through Instagram stories.

Ahead of the takeover, William told volunteers via video call: “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.”

Shout’s 1,800 trained crisis volunteers have had more than 300,000 text conversations with people in need of mental health support since its launch.

Of those, 65% of conversations were with people under the age of 25, the service said.

Shout is now helping to provide support for frontline health and care workers who are battling the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

We recently launched @OurFrontlineUK to help support keyworkers with round the clock mental health support. To date, we have held 915 conversations with Our Frontline workers💙 @HussainManawer@MindCharity@hospiceuk@KensingtonRoyal@heads_together@samaritanspic.twitter.com/08SI4RaGS6

— Shout UK (@GiveUsAShout) May 14, 2020

Since the start of the lockdown, its volunteers have taken an increase of more than 6,000 text conversations.

Mr Caught, who spoke with the royal couple, said: “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.”

He added: “What I think is really good, is they [William and Kate] take mental health seriously. To have someone of their status talking so honestly about mental health is really important.”

The KensingtonRoyal Instagram takeover coincides with the launch of a campaign to promote the service’s text number.

The ‘#Shout85258’ challenge will see people create videos of themselves forming the shape of the number with their fingers and upload it to social media.

It is the first time the KensingtonRoyal account has partnered with another organisation in such a way.

Shout’s chief executive officer, Victoria Hornby, said: “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.”

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