William and Kate mark anniversary of Royals' mental health crisis text line

15 May 2020, 22:30

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Mark First Anniversary of Crisis Text Service

By Megan White

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have marked the first anniversary of Shout85258, the crisis text line set up by their charity, by speaking to five of the organisation’s volunteers.

Shout, the UK’s first 24/7 crisis text line, was launched in May 2019 by William and Kate and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex after a £3 million investment from The Royal Foundation.

On Wednesday, William and Kate took part in a video call with five Crisis Volunteers to talk about their work, and discussed how coronavirus had changed the sort of messages they were receiving.

The volunteers said they had been contacted by people feeling isolated amid lockdown, but also by frontline NHS and social care workers concerned about PPE and the pressure of working during the pandemic.

The service is powered by a team of more than 1,800 trained volunteers who work round the clock to help people in a crisis.

It is part of the Heads Together campaign, which was spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, and hopes to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.

William and Kate spoke to five Shout volunteers on Wednesday
William and Kate spoke to five Shout volunteers on Wednesday. Picture: Kensington Palace

During the call, The Duke of Cambridge thanked volunteers for their work, saying: “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.”

In the past year, the service has had 300,000 text conversations, two thirds of which have been with people aged 25 or under.

They also spoke about how Shout is playing a vital role as the country continues to deal with the impact of coronavirus and how work on the frontline is affecting health and care staff as well as emergency responders and other key workers.

The volunteers discussed how lockdown has impacted young people’s mental wellbeing, including how many are finding it harder to access their usual ways of maintaining good mental health but the difference a supportive text conversation can make.

Shout CEO, Victoria Hornby, who also joined the call said: “In twelve months Shout has become a vital service for thousands of people across the UK who are able to text our volunteers for support, wherever and whenever they need it.

“The fact that Shout has been able to quickly start to help so many people move from a crisis point to a calmer place is down to the skill and dedication of our volunteers and the support we have had from the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and our other partners.

The Royals spoke to five Crisis Volunteers and Shout CEO Victoria Hornby
The Royals spoke to five Crisis Volunteers and Shout CEO Victoria Hornby. Picture: Kensington Palace

“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.”

Crisis Volunteer, Alexis Caught, 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.

“Without the hundreds of volunteers who give up their time to provide help and reassurance to others, the service simply wouldn’t be able to function. That is why it was so great to hear The Duke and Duchess speak so positively not only about Shout’s work but also encouraging people to get support with their mental health.

“We want to send a very clear message to anyone who is looking for someone to reach out to – we are here to listen to you anytime, anywhere about any problem.”

To raise awareness of Shout, the organisation launching a new campaign to promote the text number.

The #Shout85258 challenge will see a host of people forming the shape of the 85258 text number with their hands to create videos to upload on to social media.

To kick off the campaign, one of the Shout Crisis Volunteers who joined the call with The Duke and Duchess, will take over KensingtonRoyal’s Instagram stories with unique content including Q&As and videos from volunteers and others.