Duke of Cambridge marks Emergency Services Day in Belfast and convenes new Emergency Responder Senior Leaders Board to address mental health

The Duke of Cambridge speaking at the Police College in Belfast [Image: Kensington Palace]
The Duke of Cambridge arrived in Belfast today to mark Emergency Services Day (999 Day). His Royal Highness spent the day with Northern Irish emergency responders to thank them for their work, and to discuss the importance of mental health support for those working in the emergency services. The Duke’s visits come after he convened the first meeting of the Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board yesterday (8th September).

Emergency Services Day takes place annually on September 9th to show support to the two million people working and volunteering in the emergency services and the NHS across the country.

The Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board is the first of its kind, bringing together leaders from across all of the UK’s emergency services on the issue of mental health. It will promote collaborative working across the nation’s emergency services to ensure that all emergency responders receive the mental health support they need.

Attendees of the Emergency Responder Senior Leader Board meeting included: 

  • The Duke of Cambridge
  • Professor Nicola Fear  
  • Martin Hewitt, Chair, The National Police Chiefs Council
  • Roy Wilsher, Chair, The National Fire Chiefs Council
  • Daren Mochrie, Chair, The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives
  • Gill Scott-Moore, CEO, Police Care UK
  • Dr Jill Tolfrey, CEO, The Fire Fighters Charity
  • Karl Demian, CEO, The Ambulance Staff Charity
  • Mike France, SEO, Mountain Rescue England and Wales
  • Paul Farmer, CEO, Mind

The Board was established by His Royal Highness in response to a recommendation arising from a research project commissioned by The Royal Foundation in 2018 into the mental health and wellbeing of emergency responders in the UK. Conducted by King’s College London and the Open University, the work identified a need for greater sharing of ‘better practice’ across the emergency services sector to best support the mental health of its workforces.

The Board meeting, which took place via video conference, was chaired by Professor Nicola Fear, King’s College London, who supervised The Royal Foundation’s research.

The Duke of Cambridge is committed to supporting 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.

In April, alongside The Duchess of Cambridge, he supported the launch of ‘Our Frontline’, an initiative which provides round the clock mental health and bereavement support to frontline staff and key workers. Building upon this work, in July The Royal Foundation announced that it had provided grants to ten leading charities at the heart of mental health and frontline support through a bespoke fund which was set up as part of the organisation’s response to COVID-19.

Earlier this year, His Royal Highness chaired a roundtable with representatives from the emergency services sector and the NHS, during which he heard more about the mental health challenges impacting keyworkers in the UK during the pandemic.