The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Blessed Sacrament School in Islington, North London, today to see the work of a project she launched to help families affected by addiction – a cause very important to her.
Her Royal Highness was joined by comedian John Bishop, with whom she launched the charity effort last year, and she spoke with people involved in a pilot programme for the school-based project M-PACT (Moving Parents and Children Together) Plus.
The initiative, funded by The Royal Foundation and Comic Relief, and delivered by charities Place2Be and Action on Addiction, of which The Duchess is a Patron, aims to provide early support for schoolchildren affected by a parent’s drug or alcohol misuse.
Bishop said The Duchess is “genuinely committed” to the issue, and hailed the involvement of The Royal Foundation.
“What’s good about it is that it will hopefully de-stigmatise the whole area,” he said. "Addiction doesn’t care what social class you’re from. It’s across the board. The levels of addiction in Knightsbridge will be as high, if not higher, than some of the most deprived areas in the country.
“I think, from the brief conversations I’ve had with her, she’s committed to it as a person and probably even more so now as a mother, because you realise children are such fragile things and you’ve got to try and support them when they’re at their weakest.”
The Duchess attended an M-PACT Plus steering group meeting to discuss progress made so far across the programme and specifically in the initial pilot sites: Manchester and Salford, the North East, London and Essex.
She then had a meeting with headteachers and a private meeting with children to hear more about the mental health support services offered at the school.
It is estimated that three million children in the UK are living with parental drug and alcohol misuse, according to Comic Relief.
This new partnership has seen Place2Be school staff trained by Action on Addiction to identify and support families affected by these issues.
A two-year programme is being piloted in four areas of England, with the aim of larger-scale delivery of the programme in schools in the future.
Nick Booth, chief executive of The Royal Foundation, said: “By equipping teachers and school staff with the skills and confidence to address these issues with children and families, we aim to demonstrate the value and importance of intervening early, reducing the long term impact on children, and enabling them to fulfil their potential in life.”
Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place Be, said: “When we, together with the school are able to intervene early we can support children and enable more parents to tackle these issues, the whole family benefits from improved health and wellbeing and an improved ability to cope and succeed in their lives.”