Fresh from meeting adorable Archie yesterday, there was another royal surprise in store tonight. Kensington Palace launched a new initiative spearhead by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Since last year, the foursome have been working on Shout, a new text messaging line that supports people in crisis. To mark the news, the Palace shared several photographs of Harry and Meghan from a private engagement they undertook in support of the next chapter of Heads Together. The event took place last November, at the Mental Health Innovation volunteers’ workshop at BBC Studioworks, the couple attended.
The Palace revealed: "Shout operates 24/7 and connects people in need to trained volunteers who provide help at a time when it is most needed; enabling them to move from a moment of crisis to a calm state and form a plan for next steps to find longer-term support. As texting is private and silent, it opens up a whole new way to find help. It provides instant support - you can have a conversation at any time – at school, at home, on the bus, anywhere. This service is for everyone, but for younger people especially, texting is a trusted and familiar form of communication, and using text rather than apps makes it simple and accessible for everyone with a phone. Shout is powered by a team of volunteers who are at the heart of the service. They are trained to create a safe space for people experiencing mental health challenges. The programme is unique with the training and volunteering all done online, under the supervision of qualified clinicians. Working remotely, volunteers are part of a supportive and connected online community of 1,000, with the ambition of boosting that community to 4,000 by the end of the year."
In a video message, Prince William launched an appeal for people to apply as volunteers. William said: "At the heart of this service will be an incredible national volunteer community, one which needs to grow to allow us to support more people in crisis. We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special." He added: "Harry, Meghan, Catherine and I have been able to see the service working up close, and are very excited for its future."
The video includes several clips from Harry and Meghan's November engagement.
The Royal Foundation contacted Crisis Text Line in the US to begin the process of bringing their successful model to the UK. The service has been operating in the United States for six years and has processed over 100 million text messages.
Its founder CEO Nancy Lublin was heavily involved in the creation of Shout and sits on the board. Ms Lublin said: "We are proud of the work Crisis Text Line and our Crisis Counselors has done in the United States to ease the pain of Americans. If other world leaders will follow the lead of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, together, we can end this epidemic of emotional crisis."
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said:
"We are incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day. Over the last few months Shout has started working quietly behind the scenes. We have all been able to see the service working up close and are so excited for its future.
“At the heart of this service will be an incredible national volunteer community, one which needs to grow to allow us to support more people in crisis. We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special."
More from Sussex Royal: "Earlier last year, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex began supporting this vital program behind the scenes by hosting a meeting at Kensington Palace with contributors and partners. Last November, Their Royal Highnesses also made a surprise visit to meet with a group of Shout volunteers, and participated in a panel, hosted by Bryony Gordon."
Many of you will recall Harry opened up to Bryony, as part of Heads Together, about his own struggles following the death of his mother and how it impacted his life.
Shout will serve as a lasting legacy to the Heads Together campaign. Launched in 2016 by William, Kate and Harry, Heads Together was driven by their desire to de-stigmatise mental health and start conversations all over the world. Following a year-long campaign, YouGov noted a significant change in the public’s approach to mental health. 83% of people surveyed said they had spoken about their mental health. I've been excited to see its continuation and Shout is a fantastic next step.
It is the biggest initiative of the Royal Foundation to date, with a £3 million investment. Lorraine Heggessey, CEO of The Royal Foundation said: “Our unique model and the influence of Their Royal Highnesses has enabled us to develop this innovative solution to tackle one of today’s biggest challenges – the increasing number of people needing mental health support. The pilot stages have demonstrated the huge need for this service and the potential impact it can have. We wish all the volunteers and everyone in the Shout team every success as they build this pioneering project.”
Anyone wishing to contact the support line can do so by texting Shout to 85258.
The Duchess chose a gorgeous outfit for the event, featuring a black coat with a purple floral print, a black top and leather trousers.
With thanks to Carolina Parr, Meghan's coat is from Stella McCartney's Autumn/Winter 2018 collection.
Meghan's Mirror reports it's possible the Duchess wore Hatch maternity leggings.
To find out more about Shout please click here. I understand the launch event took place at Kensington Palace earlier today (Thursday) and was attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I expect photos and video will likely be released tomorrow. I'll be covering that over on Duchess Kate.
The Duchess recorded a video message for Camfed's Education Changes Everything gala in New York, which took place earlier this evening. In her role as vice-president of the Queen's Commonwealth Trust, the Duchess said: "A girl who is educated becomes a woman who is influential". Annie Lennox, who joined the Duchess on International Women's Day for a panel was honoured. I expect Meghan's piece was filmed very recently. I'll add a full video should one become available.
Duchess Meghan recorded a message for guests at @Camfed’s #EducationChangesEverything Gala in New York this evening, May 9. “A girl who is educated becomes a woman who is influential,” she said for the #Camfed25 event (which @AnnieLennox was honoured at). pic.twitter.com/FCzx14A2W6— Omid Scobie (@scobie) May 10, 2019
Meanwhile, it was back to work for Prince Harry today, as he travelled to The Hague for the launch of Invictus 2020. During his speech, Harry said: "It is your resilience, your determination and your courage which draw crowds in their thousands. Leaving them feeling more inspired, moved and proud than they ever thought possible. You have already proved - anything is possible. Make these games your own. We chose you for a reason. And it wasn’t just because I like the colour orange! Thank you all for guarding the Invictus Spirit and see you in 2020."
A video from the launch.
And finally, something you will all love! Disney created a gorgeous Winnie The Pooh animation to mark the arrival of Archie. The attention to detail is just fabulous, especially the Long Walk at Windsor.
I'm signing off with another photo from yesterday's photocall :)