BY YANN TEAR
Lewisham enjoyed the company of a very special guest when The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, paid a visit to a long-standing family-support charity.
The duchess was there to launch a new confidential helpline for families in need as part of her visit to the Family Action group in Perryvale, Forest Hill, where she met volunteers and families.
The South London charity has set up FamilyLine for anyone struggling with aspects of family life, from parenting and relationship difficulties to mental health and wellbeing.
The service aims to provide both immediate and long-term support, practical information and guidance, or help with accessing relevant services.
Family Action is this year celebrating 150 years of working to help vulnerable people, and today supports about 45,000 families every year in Britain.
The new helpline will use a network of remote-working volunteers to support carers and parents through phone calls, emails and texts all across the UK.
Kate’s visit was hosted by David Holmes, the chief executive of Family Action, who is a member of the Duchess’ Early Years steering group, which is looking at ways of improving how society supports children so they have the resilience to cope with life’s pressures when adults.
During her time at the charity in Forest Hill, the duchess met families supported by the organisation, spent time with some young carers and met volunteers who are supporting the new FamilyLine service.
She heard about the charity’s new campaign, which urges families to talk about the challenges that many of them face – such as debt, addiction, lack of time together, relationship issues and mental health issues.
The duchess spoke to young carers about how they cope with the pressures of school and caring for their families.
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