On the 11th-12th May the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a number of engagements in Scotland.
Firstly, Their Royal Highnesses arrived in Glasgow where they visited St John’s Primary School in Port Glasgow and sat in on a Roots of Empathy session.
Roots of Empathy is an early intervention programme run by Action for Children which has been developed to help children aged 5-13 build empathy. The programme uses a unique approach, with a local parent and baby (or ‘Tiny Teacher’) alongside a trained instructor guiding the children to develop empathy.
During their visit to the school, Their Royal Highnesses viewed a session which saw pupils interacting with a mother and her young baby as they learned how to build their understanding of the baby’s needs and emotions. The Duke and Duchess also spoke with slightly older students who have completed the programme to hear their reflections and experiences and understand how the sessions have benefitted them.
The Roots of Empathy programme is aligned to much of The Duchess’ long-term work on early childhood, which highlights how good social and emotional development at a young age supports us to thrive as individuals, with one another, as a community and as a society. Last year, The Duchess launched The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood which aims to drive awareness of, and action on, the extraordinary impact of the early years.
Following this The Duke and Duchess visited the Wheatley Group site in Kennishead to see first-hand how they are transforming the lives of disadvantaged or vulnerable people, including those at risk of homelessness.
At Kennishead, Their Royal Highnesses met local tenants of Wheatley Homes Glasgow, part of Wheatley Group, who have been supported to maximise their access to employment and mitigate the impact of poverty. They also engaged with young people and families who have benefitted from wider support packages from Wheatley Foundation, also part of Wheatley Group, including education bursaries and a partnership with the Dolly Parton Imagination library.
Following this, they visited the home of a family who have received support from Wheatley Homes Glasgow and live in one of their new-build houses. During the visit they heard first-hand the difference that support has made and the importance of good-quality, permanent housing.
The issue of homelessness has long been an important focus of The Duke of Cambridge’s work.
The final engagement in Glasgow saw The Duke and Duchess visit the University of Glasgow to talk with students about mental health and wellbeing – particularly pertinent during what is exam season at the University.
Taking place during Mental Health Awareness Week, this engagement saw Their Royal Highnesses meet students, academics and recent alumni all involved in the topic of mental health and wellbeing.
Researchers and students in the University’s School of Psychology and Neuroscience are focusing on mental wellbeing and how this can be influenced, both positively and negatively. Their work, and the work of others, is helping to inform some initiatives at the University, and in the wider community of Glasgow, designed to support student mental health. These include peer support initiatives and student-led projects, and Their Royal Highnesses spoke with some of the students delivering this work and taking advantage of it.
Following this, The Duke and Duchess took the opportunity to step outside the university building and meet with members of the public.
On the final day in Scotland The Duke visited a programme called ‘The Changing Room’ launched by SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) in 2018. Now delivered in football clubs across Scotland, Big Hearts Community Trust, the charity associated with Heart of Midlothian Football Club, was one of two pilot organisations to participate.
The programme – a joint initiative between SAMH, SPFL Trust, the Movember Foundation, Scottish Government and football club charities and trusts across Scotland – is designed to bring together men aged 30-64 to increase their social connections and look after their mental health and wellbeing.
During the visit The Duke met with participants of the 12-week programme as well as practitioners who are helping to deliver the support.