Thursday, 25 August 2016

UPDATED: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Visit YoungMinds Helpline Service

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continued their Heads Together campaign to end mental health stigma today with a visit to YoungMinds UK helpline service.

The engagement was embargoed, most likely due to the sensitive nature of the work carried out at the helpline, however, upon their arrival, word quickly spread the couple were in the area. Rebecca English was told William and Kate were keen "to see what actually happens when people seek support".

YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. The organisation is one of eight charity partners of William, Kate and Harry's mental health campaign Heads Together. The aim of the campaign is to challenge mental health stigma and change the national conversation on mental wellbeing. I expect we'll see the young royals carry out a variety of engagements with the other charities involved in the coming months.

Young Minds

The Parents Helpline is one of YoungMinds longest-running services and remains crucial to the work of the organisation. The helpline was established as an innovative response after its founders discovered that parents were frustrated, worried and desperately needed information, reassurance and advice. As a result, the service developed its current two-tier structure to serve these parents' needs: a freephone telephone helpline staffed by experienced frontline workers; and a call-back service staffed by mental health professionals. Today, the service has grown vastly and provides comprehensive telephone and online support for parents and carers of children and young people experiencing emotional, behavioural and mental health difficulties.

The visit began at meeting with the volunteers who man the helplines.

More from the Mail Online:

One, Saida Tahir, told him it was a busy time for self-harm because many teenagers were affected by their exam results. Recalling his own exam worries, William said: 'It still gives me the heebie-jeebies. I still get sweaty thinking about it.'
The couple heard harrowing tales of parents who had contacted the helpline, including one of a mother whose son had been mugged of his mobile phone when he was 13. He became too anxious to leave the home, and when he was 17 his anxiety levels 'went through the roof'.
His mother told the helpline: 'He was so distressed he was determined to end his life. He told us this quite blatantly. My husband spent weeks sleeping in the hall so our son could not escape from the house at night and head for the bridge.'

The couple received some of the essential training given to volunteers.

The couple listening in on a training talk.

The Duke and Duchess sat in on a volunteer call session.

William said: "Can I have an easy one please? I'm carrying a lot of things at the moment. I will be in floods of tears at the end otherwise. I've had too many sad stories with the Air Ambulance. I can't deal with any more stuff. Just maybe at the lower level, if I can. I'm steeling myself the best I can."

After listening to live calls, Kate said she could tell from the caller's voice, the emotion at the beginning, and then the acceptance: 'OK, this is what I need to do.' To relief towards the end: 'OK, I've been listened to, I know what my next steps are.'

Kate spoke about taking calls to chief executive Sarah Brennan:

'William and I found it absolutely fascinating, from hearing the case study and also taking the calls. She said the types of calls were so varied - 'what their worries are, their concerns'. She added: 'What we've taken away is just how normal it is. We are parents ourselves, I am sure we will face worries - we do face worries, because we've got small young children. If those worries escalate, how vital it is to get support - and you are providing that support.'
She added: 'As a parent and as a mother, having that feeling that there is somebody there that is non-judgemental, that can provide the professional support, and that can really provide helping hand at a really difficult time.'

I thought today's visit an impressive one and it's wonderful to see a focus on mental health in support of the Heads Together campaign continuing. Once again, we saw very interesting comments from the couple, especially Kate noting as parents they face worries "because we've got small children". Rebecca English noted William has been "much more engaged and engaging" than she's every seen him before. It was also excellent to see the tremendous work of the helpline promoted, if you would like to find out more about the YoungMinds helpline please click here.

We saw Kate bring back her much-loved L.K. Bennett Lasa dress yesterday - today she debuted another gorgeous dress by the brand.

The L.K. Bennett Eugenia dress is a vibrant red summery dress with short sleeves and falls just above the knee for a classic finish. It's a very feminine, floaty dress and was clearly a hit with customers as it's entirely sold out.

L.K. Bennett
The shade of red used.

L.K. Bennett

Kate carried her L.K. Bennett Nina clutch again today.

L.K. Bennett

Kate wore her effortlessly stylish Gianvito Rossi 105 Suede Pumps. They are described as "hand-finished in Italy from luxuriously soft suede. A 105mm heel and pointed toe create an elegant, flattering silhouette. The warm antique-rose hue complements every skin tone". The pumps retail for $675 at Net-A-Porter.

Kate completed the look with her Kiki McDonough Lauren earrings.

Kiki McDonough

And Cartier Ballon Bleu watch.


Finally, a look at Kate's partially-up hairstyle today; I thought it worked very well with the ensemble.

You can view a video shared by Kensington Palace which includes William and Kate speaking about what they learned from their visit.

What do you think of today's engagement and Kate's look?

Finally, I was delighted to chat with talented writer Peter Balkus about the blog. If you would like to read the piece you can do so by clicking here :)

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Kate Brings Back Favourite L.K. Bennett Dress for Day in Luton!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge carried out a day of engagements in Luton, Bedfordshire combining their interests in young people, hospice care and mental health.

The engagements marked a return to royal duties following their summer break, during which, the Cambridges enjoyed a family holiday in France. Since their return, they have been at their country residence Anmer Hall with several sightings of Prince William working with the East Anglian Air Ambulance reported. The future king travelled to Germany yesterday for the British Forces German Military Parade and celebrated 70 years of the North Rhine-Westphalia state. He also met chancellor Angela Merkel, and during a speech became the first royal to openly mention Brexit: "This partnership will continue despite Britain’s recent decision to leave the European Union."

The couple began the day with an engagement at Luton's Bute Mills to see local organisations who are doing fantastic work with young people.

They were greeted by officials who were delighted to welcome them.

The building has served many roles over the past century. A hundred years ago it was a flour mill helping to feed families across Bedfordshire - earlier this year it reopened following a £3.2 million renovation, and is now converted into an award-winning space for national charity Youthscape.

The space has been designed for Youthscape as a national hub for innovation in youth work, with areas for therapeutic and informal work with young people, and also room to train youth workers and professionals from across the UK.

The Duke and Duchess received a tour of the building before an introduction to Youthscape and their work.

Youthscape is divided into projects, each with their own staff team. In addition, a small central team provides financial, HR and administrative support across the whole organisation. At the heart of their work is local high schools, supporting curriculum areas as well as working with teenagers individually. It’s there they develop and pilot the new approaches and ideas that are shared through national projects. Youthscape calls this approach deep and wide - intense work in one community, leading to innovative training and resources across the UK.

Youthscape made these (very yummy looking) biscuits to celebrate the royal visit.

The Duchess sampled handmade brownies that had been homemade for her and William. Kate talked to the teenagers who made the brownies "So what are you making, this smells seriously good,' asked Kate, 'what are you putting in? Is this just chocolate? Golden syrup? Good." She added: "When I try to do this with George at home, chocolate and the golden syrup goes everywhere. He makes so much mess. It's chaos". Kate described the brownies as "delicious".

Kate told a group of young people she loved the card game Uno as a child and revealed she enjoyed reading the very popular The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. Laura Murphy commented that Kate "said it was really, really good". For those who have read it, it's an excellently written book, isn't it? Very Hitchcockian, intriguing and a real page turner. No doubt Kate will be looking forward to the motion picture adaptation starring Emily Blunt.

Holly and Ellis told William and Kate how Youthscape has supported them both through difficult times.

More from the Mail Online's story:

'Miss Jones, 18, emotionally revealed that she began self-harming after her mother was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. She told the couple that Youthscape helped her cope, especially when her mother died when she was just 14.
William told her: 'What happened should never have happened to you and you should never have gone through it. 'The fact you have gone through it and got where you are now, you should be really, really proud.' 
Kate told both girls they were 'so courageous' and 'strong'. Speaking after the meeting, Miss Jones told the Press Association: 'I feel so thankful for what he said, especially because he lost his mum at a similar age. 'It meant a lot to me. He said I was really brave and strong and that I should be proud of myself. He was really nice and so was Kate.'

The Duke and Duchess took part in Self Harm UK online support group Alumina to help young people stop self-harming.

William and Kate met CHUMS (Child Bereavement & Trauma Service), a mental health and emotional wellbeing service. They discussed how the organisation supports children dealing with or affected by suicide.

The couple were also introduced to the work of Luton-based group Our Minds Matter. Luton Council of Faiths and Grassroots are working together to raise awareness and address the stigma of mental health among faith groups. Meeting several groups together affords the royals the chance to see the various approaches and strategies being deployed in the area of mental health.

A shy 9-year-old Ella Curtis presented Kate with a beautiful bouquet as the couple left Youthscape.

Next, William and Kate visited Keech Hospice Care.

Kate greeting well-wishers.

There has been great excitement ahead of the visit with ongoing preparations underway in recent days.

Staff practising their flag waving.

The royals met staff, volunteers, families and friends of the hospice.

Keech Hospice Care support both children and adults and is based in a purpose-built facility in Luton. Care is delivered to patients in a number of environments, including the family home, schools and hospitals. The services are provided free of charge - with the organisation relying on public donations for 70% of its budget.

The Duke and Duchess discussed the bereavement serviced offered with families who've lost loved ones. During a chat with a family who lost their mother, William gave them advice noting how important it is to talk as a family and said: "It's OK to feel sad." He added: "I know how you feel. I miss my mother everyday." It was the stand out moment of the visit for me, seeing William opening up on such a deeply painful subject to help a family going through the same terrible time he did. I think it's so important, particularly for our younger royals, to connect with the younger generation, something that was achieved in a very delicate and emotional setting today. You can watch a video here.

More from Rebecca English:

Rebecca English Twitter Feed

Hello! Magazine shared the following:

'William and Kate also met Jamie and Ethan Coniam, ten and six, who lost their brother Kieran when he was ten after a battle with cerebal palsy, epilepsy and autism. Ethan asked Kate if he could have a hug, to which the Duchess replied: "Yes of course, I love cuddles." She then offered a hug to Jamie, which he accepted.'

William and Kate were given two memory jars.

More on the services offered:

"Imagine hearing the heart-breaking news that your child, spouse or parent has an incurable and devastating condition. At a time when it can feel like nothing may be the same again, Keech Hospice Care is here to help. We recognise that people diagnosed with terminal and life-limiting conditions not only experience physical symptoms, but also have social, emotional and spiritual needs as well. At Keech we offer care and support not just to the patient but the whole family. Through our specialised activities, clinical appointments, in-patient care, community nursing teams, art and music therapy, one to one counselling and drop-in sessions, we offer a holistic approach to a patient and their family’s needs."

The Duke and Duchess attended a reception.

William and Kate enjoyed chatting with staff and families.

William had the honour of cutting the cake.

Finally, they unveiled a plaque to mark twenty-five years of the adult hospice.

A lovely shot of the royals leaving.

The day concluded with a visit to Hayward Tyler, Luton.

William and Kate visited to present them with the Queen's Award for Enterprise (International Trade) and to open their newly-built Centre of Excellence.

The centre is the result of a £20m investment, the largest in the company’s history.

The company has been operating from its current site since the early 1870s, and is the global centre of design and development for its key products, the Boiler Circulating Pump and wet-wound motors. Other achievements include producing the first submersible motor in the early 1900s, the largest sub-sea motors, and providing units to all the Royal Naval submarine fleet.

The Duke and Duchess meet some of the graduates and apprentices training at the company.

The Duchess brought back one of her most popular dresses - the L.K. Bennett Lasa dress first worn during the 2014 royal tour in Queensland.

The elegant £245 snorkel-blue dress is knee length and features short sleeves. It was described: 'Let your spring style blossom with the Lasa dress. This silhouette-skimming style comes adorned with bright poppies, arranged in an artful print against a white backdrop.' It's an excellent summery choice, and I was very much hoping the Duchess would wear it again.

L.K. Bennett

For those who are fond of the dress, the very similar cornflower-blue L.K. Bennett Lara dress is currently available in limited sizing.

L.K. Bennett

The Tamara Floral Print Dress appears to be another update of the Lasa. The £250 dress is: 'Decorated with a scattering of florals, this cream style features flattering, half-length sleeves and a unique curved neckline. In addition, it’s crafted with stretch, ensuring the sleekest fit.'

L.K. Bennett

The Telegraph's Emma Speeding gave the chic look a thumbs up in her article:

'Getting dressed in a heatwave is tricky enough, let alone when you factor in overzealous air conditioning, a formal office dress code - and the world's attention on you. So spare a thought for the Duchess of Cambridge, who is in Luton today for a number of official engagements with Prince William. Ever the professional dresser, Kate has managed to look both cool and appropriate despite the rising mercury by rewearing a summery white flattering shift dress covered in a bright blue poppy print from her favourite high street store L.K. Bennett.'

It was a day of L.K. Bennett styles for the Duchess, who wore her Fern pumps. They are available in most sizes for £195.

L.K. Bennett

The Duchess accessorised with the brand's Nina clutch.

L.K. Bennett

Kate completed the look with her sapphire and diamond earrings.


It was a great day in Luton! We'll have the dream looks post next :)