Prince William made a surprise visit to Northern Ireland Wednesday to thank front-line and emergency workers for their help during the coronavirus pandemic.
William, who hasn’t ventured over the water since March when lockdown began, headed to Belfast’s Police Service of Northern Ireland’s training college, where he met officers and staff taking part in the Wellbeing Volunteer Training course, People reported.
The program trains volunteers to support colleagues suffering from mental health issues.
The Duke of Cambridge, who regularly talks about the importance of speaking up about mental health, also met with representatives from Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to mark Emergency Services Day.
We welcome The Duke of Cambridge @KensingtonRoyal as he marks Emergency Services Day in Belfast. Thanking first responders for their work and taking the opportunity to discuss the importance of #mentalhealth for those working on the front line👇📸 #999DayUK pic.twitter.com/ZOWvJ8QroY
— Northern Ireland Office (@NIOgov) September 9, 2020
William delivered a speech at the police college, saying: “Each and every day, people from teams across the blue light community are called to the scenes of dreadful incidents. But as you care for us in our time of need, so too must we ensure that we are there for you when you need it the most. We must ensure that you have the right support in place each and every day.”
“And I know first hand, that even in routine circumstances, those of you on the front line can face immense challenges that can naturally have a significant impact on both your physical and mental health.”
His office said William’s commitment to supporting the mental health and well-being of the emergency services community comes from “having witnessed first-hand the challenges that emergency responders face on a daily basis during his roles as both an Air Ambulance and RAF Search and Rescue pilot.”
The royal added in his speech, “There has never been a cross-sector mental health forum of this kind, to share learnings and best practice on how best to support staff.
“I was encouraged and heartened about their desire for tangible and lasting change – with new and better collaboration and training, which could certainly draw inspiration from the peer support program here in Northern Ireland. In February of last year, Catherine and I met with a group of your PSNI colleagues at Hillsborough Castle to hear about their experiences and the unique set of policing and safety challenges that they face.
“We were struck then, as I am now, by your steadfast commitment to helping others. You are a testament to the blue light community across our country, and I can’t thank you enough for what you do.”