The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have marked the first anniversary of their mental health textline, Shout UK, by releasing a video call they made with several Shout volunteers and with Shout’s Chief Executive, Victoria Hornby.
William and Kate spoke with five volunteers: Jo Irwin, Alexis Caught, Jo Booth, Michelle Fernandes and Kiel McPhilips about their experiences during the pandemic. The volunteers noted that there had been an uptick in texts since self-isolation orders went into effect, because people cannot leave the house and, in some cases, the source of what’s causing their mental health issues.
One of the volunteers, Alexis Caught, told William and Kate that “A lot of texters want to feel heard. The other services aren’t there to listen to them at the moment. A lot of people don’t have friends they can see face-to-face. The ability to drop a quick message to us…is priceless.”
Another volunteer revealed that frontline workers are texting in worried about themselves and their families, as they want to do their jobs but they’re risking not being able to see their families.
William praised the five volunteers on the Zoom call, 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.”
Hornby said, about Shout’s power, “’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.
“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.”
Launched last May, Shout has over 1,800 trained volunteers able to help those in crisis, and have taken over 300,000 text conversations, most of which are with people under the age of 25.
To further mark Shout’s first anniversary, volunteers will take over the Kensington Royal Instagram Stories on Saturday to answer questions about the service.