As Patron of Place2Be, The Duchess of Cambridge hosted a Gala Dinner at Buckingham Palace in celebration of Place2Be’s 25th anniversary. Set up in 1994 by Dame Benny Refson DBE, Place2Be provides emotional support at an early age and believes that no child should face mental health difficulties alone. Over the past 25 years, more than 250,000 children and their families have been directly supported by Place2Be, which currently works with 639 schools across the UK.
Children’s mental health has long been a priority for The Duchess. Over the last eight years she has explored how experiences in early childhood often lie at the root of the hardest social challenges the country faces today. What we experience in the earliest years – from in the womb to the age of five – is instrumental in shaping our future lives. Last month, The Duchess launched the survey ‘5 Big Questions on the Under Fives’, which aimed to spark the biggest ever conversation on early childhood that will ultimately help bring about positive, lasting change for generations to come.
Since her patronage began in 2013, The Duchess has met pupils, families and staff at Place2Be partner schools to see the vital work being done by the charity, as well as supported its yearly Children’s Mental Health Week campaigns. Place2Be have also collaborated with The Royal Foundation on a number of projects: they are a charity partner for the Heads Together Campaign and Mentally Healthy Schools website, in addition to working with Shout – a free, 24/7 text service for anyone in crisis which was launched nationally by Their Royal Highness’s in 2019.
At the event, The Duchess met pupils from three Place2Be partner schools – The New North Academy in Islington, Salusbury Primary School in Queens Park and Cranbrook School in Kent. Pupils from The New North Academy and Salusbury Primary School created and performed an original song for the occasion with members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s Community and Education department, Resound.
Speaking at the Gala dinner, The Duchess of Cambridge said,
“Place2Be was one of the first charities I became Patron of. I knew it was special then, but having spent many years since, learning about the importance of childhood development, I see even more the value in the work that you do and I am hugely grateful for all that you have taught me over the past seven years.
You taught me the importance of creating safe and nurturing environments within schools, embracing a holistic view of emotional well-being which permeates through the whole school system.
You also taught me that it’s the simplest things that make a difference to children. It’s the quality time that is spent with them. It’s the time you take to listen to them. It is trusting relationships that have the most profound impact on the emotional and mental wellbeing of a child.”