The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today visited Newham Ambulance Station in East London to speak to ambulance staff and paramedics about their experiences of working during one of the most challenging periods in the London Ambulance Service’s history.
Covering the boroughs of Newham and Waltham Forest, Newham Station forms part of the second busiest station group in the London Ambulance Service having attended over 76,500 calls over the past year.
During the visit, The Duke and Duchess joined paramedic Jahrin Khan in the Station’s Wellbeing Garden to hear how she has coped with the pressures of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and including impact of having to isolate from her family.
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Their Royal Highnesses also heard more about the mental health and wellbeing support provided to staff at the Station, including drop-in sessions and wellbeing spaces, alongside some of the wider initiatives provided by the London Ambulance Service including their fleet of Wellbeing Tea Trucks.
Launched in February 2020, the tea trucks travel to hospitals and control centres across the capital each day, serving hot drinks and snacks to ambulance staff and volunteers and offering them the chance to take a moment to pause and refresh.
The trucks also allow staff who are currently unable to work in patient-facing roles the opportunity to give back to their frontline colleagues.
At the Station, The Duke and Duchess met paramedic Shani Smith who has been helping to run one of the trucks over the past year, and heard how she has used her mental health training to provide peer support to her colleagues.
The London Ambulance Service has received £100,000 of funding from NHS Charities Together, of which Their Royal Highnesses are joint Patrons, to enable them to continue to run the trucks and expand their provision in order to meet the needs of crew and volunteers during this challenging time.
The funding has also been used to create isolation packs and food for staff across LAS sites.
The Duke of Cambridge is committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the emergency services community, having witnessed first-hand the challenges that emergency responders face on a daily basis during his roles as both an Air Ambulance and RAF Search and Rescue pilot.
Over the last year, The Duke and Duchess and The Royal Foundation have worked to support those working on the frontline of the pandemic, including through the provision of grants to ten leading charities at the heart of mental health and frontline support as part of a bespoke COVID relief fund.
London Ambulance Service NHS Trust Chair Heather Lawrence OBE welcomed the couple along with Deputy Chief Executive Khadir Meer.
Heather Lawrence OBE said: “It is very much appreciated that Their Royal Highnesses took time to visit and thank our staff who have worked throughout the pandemic often in very stressful and distressing circumstances.”
Khadir Meer said: “Our Service has had to work harder than ever over the past year to care for London. It’s vital and extremely rewarding work, but it can take a toll and even the most resilient of us need support at times like these.
“Looking after our people is essential to continue to care for Londoners. This is why we are trying to do everything we can to support the physical and mental health of our teams working under such pressure.”