Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, joint Patrons of NHS Charities Together, today visited Newham Ambulance Station in East London and learned about NHS Charities Together funded projects supporting ambulance staff and paramedics.

Newham Station forms part of the second busiest station group in the London Ambulance Service (LAS) which has benefitted from £100,000 of funding from NHS Charities Together for wellbeing projects, including a fleet of Wellbeing Tea Trucks and provisions for crew and volunteers, at one of the most challenging periods in the service’s history.

In the first days of the new year, 999 call handlers at LAS were answering in excess of 8,000 calls a day compared to around 5,500 calls on a ‘normal’ very busy winter day.

Tea Trucks

The tea trucks funded by NHS Charities Together travel to hospitals and control centres across the capital each day, serving hot drinks and snacks to ambulance staff and volunteers and offering them the chance to take a moment to pause and refresh. The trucks also allow staff who are currently unable to work in patient-facing roles the opportunity to give back to their frontline colleagues.

At the station, The Duke and Duchess met paramedic Shani Smith who has been helping to run one of the trucks over the past year, and heard how she has used her mental health training to provide peer support to her colleagues. Shani explained how she uses her training out on the truck to help stressed colleagues over a cuppa. She said:

“It’s so much more than a cup of tea. The ‘Tea Trucks’ are sometimes the only way crews can get refreshments during lockdown and they offer the chance to talk and unburden if you have been at stressful incidents. This is as important as ever in the past few months.”

Royal support

During the visit to Newham Station, The Duke and Duchess heard more about the mental health and wellbeing support provided to staff at the station, including drop-in sessions and wellbeing spaces, alongside some of the wider initiatives provided by the London Ambulance Service.

The Duke of Cambridge is keen to support the mental health and wellbeing of the emergency services community, 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 Duke and Duchess of Cambridge became joint Patrons of NHS Charities Together in December last year.