Ahead of St. David’s Day, The Prince and Princess of Wales visited South Wales to champion mental health initiatives and meet local communities.
Brynawel Rehabilitation Centre
The Prince and Princess stared the day at Brynawel Rehabilitation Centre to hear first-hand about the work they do to support those struggling with the effects of drug and alcohol addiction.
The Centre has been delivering a range of support programmes in Wales for over 40 years including a programme for people with Alcohol Related Brain Damage and specialist therapy courses to help clients improve their mental health.
During the visit, Their Royal Highnesses met clients at the Centre and their families and learn about how the current garden facilities and the outdoors are used as part of their therapy.
The Prince and Princess of Wales will also see the plans for new therapy allotments and a garden which are being created thanks to the support given to social enterprise Life at No.27 by The Royal Foundation as part of its “community impact” pilots. Over time, Life at No.27 intend to create six therapy allotments and gardens across South Wales that will deliver mental health support to local communities.
The new garden at the Brynawel Rehabilitation Centre will include a collection of allotments where individuals can have their own space to learn and grow their own produce. This will sit alongside a communal sensory and herbal garden, a mud kitchen and an interactive learning space.
The Royal Foundation has convened national and local organisations to support the design and build, as well as provide funding, tools, plants, seeds and materials for landscaping. The allotments and garden are being developed over the coming months and will offer free and lowcost gardening therapy and mental health support sessions for the Centre’s service users and their families. In time, residents from the local and wider community who are experiencing mental ill health, low confidence or isolation will also have access to the garden through GP referrals.
Aberavon Leisure & Fitness Centre
Their Royal Highnesses then visited Aberavon Leisure & Fitness Centre to meet local communities and hear about how sport and exercise can support mental health and wellbeing. Aberavon Leisure & Fitness Centre opened in 2016 and offers a range of physical activities to promote a healthy lifestyle for local people in Aberavon.
At the centre, The Prince and Princess toured the facilities including a large indoor sports hall where young people and Welsh professional athletes including Harrison Walsh and Hannah Brier will be taking part in an athletics and gymnastics session. Other facilities include a spin studio and an eight lane 25m swimming pool with a moveable floor.
Wales Air Ambulance charity
The final engagement of the day saw The Prince and Princess visit the headquarters of the Wales Air Ambulance. The charity, which was founded in 2001, has completed over 43,000 missions and is on standby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. During the visit, Their Royal Highnesses met emergency workers, volunteers and supporters and will hear about their recent operations across Wales.
The Prince and Princess also had the opportunity during the engagement to speak to emergency workers about the importance of prioritising their own mental health. During the visit, it was announced that The Prince of Wales has become Patron of the charity.
Following this, Their Royal Highnesses then officially opened a new family room which has been designed by a bereaved family who lost their father in a tragic road accident. The room has been created as a safe space for families, nurses and volunteers and The Prince and Princess sat down with the family who designed the room, along with the nurses and volunteers who have helped them since losing their father.
Mental health support for emergency responders has long been a passion for The Prince of Wales, who in 2021 announced the launch of the Blue Light Together package of mental health support at The Royal Foundation Emergency Services Mental Health Symposium. The Prince of Wales has also previously served as both an Air Ambulance and an RAF search and rescue helicopter pilot.