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The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Northern Ireland

The Prince and Princess of Wales visited Northern Ireland where they spent the day visiting cross-community organisations which work to provide services and support to people from all backgrounds.

The Prince and Princess’s first visit of the day was to PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland (PIPS Charity) in Belfast which works across communities in the city and throughout Northern Ireland to provide crisis support for those at risk of suicide and self-harm. PIPS Charity was founded in 2003 following the tragic loss of fourteen young people to suicide in Belfast over a short period of time the previous year. Compelled to act following the devastating events, stakeholders from across the city came together to try to tackle the issue. The charity delivers a range of tailored suicide prevention, counselling and bereavement support services, whilst also providing training to members of the public, helping them to spot those at risk of suicide and signpost them to support.

During their visit, Their Royal Highnesses spoke with PIPS Charity staff and counsellors about the life-saving work that the charity provides to service users and how the organisation has worked to remove all possible barriers to support those experiencing suicidal thoughts. This includes employing a ‘no appointment needed’ service and training its reception staff to be able to help members of the public in distress. Their Royal Highnesses then met with one of the charity’s clients who spoke about their personal challenges and how PIPS is supporting them to overcome these.

Following their time at PIPS Charity, The Prince and Princess visited Trademarket, a new outdoor street-food and retail market situated in the heart of Belfast. Having opened its doors to the public in July, Trademarket offers a place for different members of the community to come together to enjoy artisan food, drinks and products from local, independent vendors.

Upon arrival, Their Royal Highnesses heard from local entrepreneur, Will Neill, about his inspiration for the project. Through Trademarket, Will wanted to create a vibrant, welcoming and diverse site which would allow new businesses from different backgrounds to work alongside each other. After three years of planning, the project came to fruition when Kainos, a Belfast-based software company, came on board and provided the site for the market at a peppercorn rent. The Prince and Princess met representatives from the company to hear why they wanted to support the project and learn about some of the wider work that Kainos does to support the local community in Belfast.

Their Royal Highnesses also got behind the bar to try their hands at mixology, competing against one another in a race to make the fastest cocktail, before meeting with vendors to hear how Trademarket has helped their new businesses to thrive.

Their Royal Highnesses’ final stop of the day was to Carrick Connect, a youth charity based in Carrickfergus which offers support services to local young people experiencing social or emotional difficulties.

During their visit, The Prince and Princess learnt about some of the projects which Carrick Connect are currently implementing in the community, including a mentoring service created to help young people develop strategies for coping with life. Their Royal Highnesses also met with the charity’s team of mentors and some of the young people they support to hear more about the positive impact that the mentoring service is having on their lives and future plans.

Following their visit to Carrick Connect, Their Royal Highnesses met members of the local community along the town’s seafront. The Prince and Princess of Wales were given the titles of Baron and Baroness Carrickfergus by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth upon their marriage in 2011.