Friday, 4 November 2016

Kate, prison and understanding

The Duchess of Cambridge with staff at HMP Eastwood during a visit today
(photo Kensington Royal Twitter)

From red carpet to prison walls. In less than twenty four hours, the Duchess of Cambridge went from attending a royal film premiere to visiting a jail. Two very different events but one unifying theme as Kate continued her campaign to raise understanding of mental health issues with a focus this week on the impact of addiction.

The Duchess of Cambridge had already left HMP Eastwood Park in Gloucestershire when her surprise visit to this closed all women prison was announced. She spent some time there this morning meeting some of the women serving prison terms there to hear about their experiences. But much of the visit involved talking to staff to understand how they support prisoners with a wide range of often very complex needs. This isn't the first time that Kate has made a secret visit to a prison - in 2015, she spent time at HMP Send in Surrey to look at the work being carried out by the Rehabilitation of Addicted Prisoners Trust.

The second part of her day in Gloucestershire involved a visit to another support service for those going through difficult times.

The Nelson Trust provides a wide range of help for people who are trying to get through dependencies on alcohol or drugs. It began in 1985 with one residential centre and now offers support to people in a variety of different settings.  Its Women's Centre, which Kate visited today, began in 2010 and offers support for a wide range of vulnerabilities.

The Duchess of Cambridge heard about the work the Trust does with over 500 women in the south west of England every year and some of the difficult tasks it faces as it helps people. 

Kate also met some of the women who have used the Nelson Trust to understand their experiences better and heard about how the organisation helps families come back together after difficult situations have impacted on relationships.

This day of unannounced engagements for Kate once again put the spotlight on the Heads Together initiative which she helped found alongside Prince William and Prince Harry. Their idea to make people talk about and understand mental health issues more fully has had a big impact in the six months since it was announced. Today's visits only served to underline that. 

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