In today's Daily Mail, royal correspondent Rebecca English exclusively reports the Duchess of Cambridge will launch a campaign to help children failed by "broken Britain" in the New Year.
Rebecca English reports it will be a lifelong project for the Duchess:
‘This is a lifelong project,’ said one royal source. ‘She is looking at what she can do over the next five, ten, 15, 20 years. She wants to be able to look back and see what difference has been made. That’s what her position in public life allows her to do.’
Researchers have highlighted the importance of early intervention and how children from disadvantaged backgrounds who do not receive the right help at school age can suffer lifelong problems. The duchess’s initiative, which will be launched in the new year, is a major solo move. Until now she has worked on campaigns alongside her husband William and brother-in-law Harry.
According to sources, Kate has acknowledged in private that her detractors are likely to question what she, as a privately-educated and extremely privileged young woman, could possibly know about poverty and lack of family cohesion. She has often spoken of how lucky she feels to be part of a close and loving family who have always supported her. But she maintains that it is her duty as a member of the Royal Family to use her position to look at fundamental issues affecting the nation on a long-term basis.'
During the inaugural Royal Foundation Forum in February, Kate spoke about the "long-lasting resonance" the work of the Foundation should have and discussed plans for the future. "Since our roles are lifetime roles, our commitment to the work we do through the Foundation is genuinely long term. The work we do can and should have a long-lasting resonance. For this reason we're able to support causes we're passionate about for decades into the future. Like the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales we feel strongly we have to take a long-term view that is measured in generations."
July's annual Royal Foundation report revealed plans to develop an overarching programme focused on several key areas:
'In 2016, the Centre for Mental Health published the report ‘Missed Opportunities: A review of recent evidence into children and young people’s mental health’, which suggested that mental health problems affect one in ten children and young people. It goes on to say that: “A range of interventions can help to protect mental health from pregnancy to age five. Most need to be targeted towards families who have the highest risks or children who are showing early signs of distress.”
The Duchess of Cambridge requested research into further interventions, alongside the programmes and platforms already in development, which could provide support for mothers-to-be and new mothers. As a result, towards the end of 2018 we will launch initiatives designed to reduce the stigma of maternal mental health difficulties and improve related knowledge and understanding. We will collaborate with the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) to support new initiatives and work with other organisations within the MMHA for this purpose.
As a major part of her future work, The Duchess of Cambridge has been working with The Foundation to develop an overarching programme on early intervention, pulling together three key themes of support for mothers, parents and teachers to give children a better start in life.
Following the success of Heads Together, the royals have launched initiatives to further the impact in schools, the workforce and the military. The campaign succeeded in starting conversations all over the UK and further afield about the way we talk about mental health. A study of 14,000 people by YouGov noted a significant change in the public’s approach to mental health between February and May 2017, as publicity about the Heads Together campaign was reaching its height. The Duchess' solo project is the next step in bringing other key interests such as early intervention and addiction together.
In February, the Duchess convened a symposium on the importance of early intervention to provide solid social and emotional platforms for children. During a speech she noted: "These are ‘lifetime’ issues, they require a very long term perspective. But the issues are also complex and multi-sided, so they need integrated, collective approaches to create real impact. This is what I am so keen to explore. We all believe that every child deserves the best possible start in life."
Chief executive of Kate's patronage, the Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families, Professor Peter Fonagy, is one of the advisers on the committee she convened. Speaking to The Daily Mail, he said: "She came with a very deep interest even then about childhood and the influence of childhood on later development and she was surprisingly well informed about it. She was clearly on a journey of learning but had a good understanding of the importance of early development on the rest of life. She could affect the future of an entire generation with her work."
Back to Rebecca English's story:
Among the issues Kate is exploring is how to support vulnerable families from the earliest possible stage in order to get their children ‘school-ready’ and able to cope with their mental and emotional needs. She and her expert advisers will also look at how to introduce better mental health support for primary school children, and at teaching parenting and relationship skills to teenagers before they even think of starting a family themselves.
‘She is getting to know her subject really well as she knows how difficult it can be for someone from the Royal Family to talk about issues like this. People will often accuse them of being “preachy” or judgemental,’ the source said. ‘But she has spent the past few years meeting hundreds of people struggling with mental health issues and addiction, and it all seems to come back to childhood.’ Kate has been seen only a handful of times since the birth of Prince Louis in April. ‘She has been working hard behind the scenes, nonetheless,’ one said.'
The royals have a truly unique platform and the opportunity to effect lasting change, raise awareness, raise much-needed funds and create conversations in often largely ignored areas. I've said before, as enjoyable as seeing the red carpet events and jewels is, the true value of the monarchy comes from seeing royals out and about engaging in local communities and helping their chosen charities. I look forward to hearing more about how the project will work in the New Year. I imagine engagements related to the area will be a focus in addition to mental health, Heads Together and patronage visits.
In our last post, we discussed the likely possibility Kate would not return to engagements until October. Emily Andrews confirmed that via Twitter: "I’ve been asked when Kate will be back from maternity leave. I said she’d be back in October: we’d start to see a few engagements then and building up to Christmas. Mental health will be a focus."
Hope you're all having a great weekend! :)