News : Prince William Reveals Plans to Train as a Volunteer Counsellor for Crisis Helpline He Set Up
Devon, England, Sept 9, 2019 -- The Duke of Cambridge hopes to train as a volunteer counsellor for the national text crisis service he helped to set up, the royal revealed as he spoke to emergency responders at Harcombe House in Devon today.
Visiting the residential centre run by The Fire Fighters’ Charity, Prince William, 37, spoke of his ambition as the service, called Shout, announced a partnership with emergency services organisations will enable ‘bluelight’ staff and their families access support.
Shout, launched earlier this year, is a free and anonymous service manned by specially-trained volunteers, who can provide instant help, day or night, over issues ranging from suicide to relationship break-ups, as well as the effects of abuse or bullying.
Chatting to volunteers from the service, which was developed by William and Kate’s Royal Foundation, he said: ‘I’m aiming to set myself up for it, I really want to do it.
‘Even if I can only do an hour on my laptop. I want to do the training and be able to help.’
Shout volunteers receive 25 hours online training before dealing with members of the public.
If the call is deemed an emergency with a real risk to life, then it is passed onto the relevant emergency service.
It was decided to offer a text message service as many, particularly young people, find it easier to message by phone than calling a traditional helpline.
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On a visit to mark Emergency Services Day – which Kensington Palace celebrated by releasing a photograph of the young prince playing on an old fire engine with his brother, Prince Harry, cousins Zara and Peter Phillips and late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales - William spoke to volunteers from the service.
Chatting with retired firefighter Richard Baldwin, 70, and serving firefighter Dan Bills, the prince, himself a former air ambulance and search and rescue pilot, said: ‘What I always find with the blue light community is that you put the hat and the uniform on day in day out and you see whole families being torn apart.
‘You try and compartmentalise, you try not to bring it back to your own family but after a while one or two jobs catch up with you.
‘We are not robots and, if you are in the emergency services for long enough, you see really distressing things.
‘All that weighs upon you, and if you have something going on at home - family, illness - it all gets on top of you, too many things to keep a lid on.’
During the visit, the duke was taken on a tour of the newly refurbished centre and chatted with people in the gym, including John Couzins, who has a lower limb injury and was using an anti-gravity treadmill.
William was nearly upstaged when greeting people at the event as he sat next to a playful Joseph Dowden, six, from Surrey, and Oliver Myers, ten, from Leeds, during his visit, who put on a cheeky display.
Before leaving, William unveiled a plaque to mark his visit.
Kensington Palace's Instagram account unveiled a host of images from the event.
Speaking after the visit, Mr Baldwin, 70, who lives in Tiverton, praised the work of the Fire Fighters Charity.
‘They have been absolutely fantastic to me,’ he said. ‘I developed PTSD after a few horrific things and then my legs came off. The charity has been absolutely life-saving - the only word I can describe.
Mr Baldwin, who showed the duke his double amputations, added: ‘What an honour to meet him today. Not often that you get to show your legs off to the future King of England.’
The Fire Fighters Charity offers specialist, lifelong support for members of the UK fire services community, empowering individuals to achieve mental, physical and social wellbeing throughout their lives.
Originally known as the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund, the Charity was established in 1943 to support the families of firefighters killed during the Blitz.
Her Majesty The Queen became its Patron in 1953.
Opened in 1981, Harcombe House is one of three residential centres run by The Fire Fighters Charity to provide physical and mental health support to operational and retired members of the UK’s fire and rescue services, and their dependants.
Created in 2018, 999 Day begins annually at 9am on the 9th September (the 9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month) and is held to pay tribute to the invaluable work that is carried out by the emergency services and responders.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
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