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The Cambridges & Sussexes unite for first project since splitting households

The fab four are back together again

Tracy Schaverien

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have appealed for thousands of volunteers to help run a new text messaging helpline that will support people in crisis. On Friday, William and Kate, and Harry and Meghan announced the launch of Shout, a 24-hour service that connects people in need to trained volunteers who help calm them, plan their next steps and find longer-term support.

Volunteers, supported by clinical professionals, will be on hand to reply to texts from people suffering a personal crisis. This might include suicidal thoughts, abuse, self-harm, bullying and relationship problems. So far, the service has been operating under the radar with 1,000 volunteers, but the William says he hopes to quadruple that number in a year and called on the public to become volunteers so the service can expand.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge appealed for volunteers to help with their new mental health helpline

On Thursday, HELLO! joined William and Kate at Kensington Palace, where they explained how people can join them. "We are incredibly excited to be launching this service, knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day," William said. "Over the past few months Shout has started working quietly behind the scenes and Harry, Meghan, Catherine and I have been able to see the service working up close and are so excited for its future.

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"At the heart of this service will be an incredible national volunteer community, one which needs to grow and allow us to support more people in crisis. We hope that many more of you will join us and be part of something very special."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have worked with them on the project

He added: "As texting is private and silent, it opens up a whole new way to find help. It provides instant support. You can have a conversation anywhere, anytime; at school, home, on the bus, anywhere.  I’m incredibly excited to be launching this service knowing it has the potential to reach thousands of vulnerable people every day."

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Volunteers need to be able to commit to 25 hours of specialist training, then two to four hours a week to man the service, which they can do from home. Kate said: "All volunteers need is a computer with a secure connection so they can complete online training and connect directly to those in need. The commitment for those keen to sign up is only between two to four hours a week, anytime, anywhere. It’s really that simple. This really is an important step for those in need."

Shout has been established by digital health charity Mental Health Innovations, in partnership with Crisis Text Line, which has already been operating successfully in the US since 2013. Supported by the Royal Foundation, it is seen as a legacy of the Heads Together campaign, which has worked to change the conversation and end the stigma around mental health. To find out more about becoming a Shout volunteer go to giveusashout.org.

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