Kate says pandemic ‘exacerbated’ struggles families face in deprived areas

The Duchess of Cambridge has said she recognised struggles families faced during the pandemic while speaking to a volunteer who worked at a food bank.

Sami, who only gave his first name and came to the UK with his partner Helen last year, began helping out at the Community Food Hub, in Hackney, east London, while Helen was working at one of the Nightingale Hospitals.

During his first day, photographer Grey Hutton was taking pictures of volunteers at the food hub as part of the National Geographic’s Covid-19 Emergency Fund for Journalists when he decided to take a picture of Sami.

The image of Sami, which shows him standing outside of the food bank wearing PPE and smiling, is among 100 photographs chosen for Kate’s Hold Still project.

In a phone call with Sami, which was published on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s YouTube channel on Monday, Kate said his story was “fascinating” and had been included as the role of the exhibition was to highlight the “amazing work” being done by communities during the pandemic.

“I think there is a real desperate need, wasn’t there? I think the struggles that families, the kids had were there anyway but then everything’s been exacerbated,” Kate said.

“That’s exactly how it was,” Sami added. “I learnt so much in my time as a volunteer there.”

The duchess said she was “thrilled” to have his image as part of the final selection, while Sami said it felt “really awesome” to have been chosen.

The Hold Still project encouraged the public to document life through photographs during the pandemic. It has since been turned into an exhibition and book.