Why Kate Middleton's newest patronage is so meaningful for the Duchess

The Duchess of Cambridge has become patron of Family Action

The Duchess of Cambridge joined children and families for an afternoon of festive fun as she took over from the Queen as patron of Family Action on Wednesday. Kate was at Peterley Manor Farm in Buckinghamshire, where youngsters enjoyed Christmas activities in the "Elves Enchanted Forest" – making decorations, eco-friendly reindeer food and hot chocolate. She also helped the children to choose Christmas trees for Family Action preschools and met some of the charity's staff and support workers.

Her visit marks the start of her new patronage, passed on to her by the Queen after 65 years. Her Majesty took over the role from her grandmother Queen Mary in 1953. And the charity's work is already close to the Duchess's heart. Founded in 1869, Family Action support families facing financial hardship, issues around mental health and emotional wellbeing, social isolation, parenting challenges, domestic abuse, and substance misuse. It works directly with vulnerable or disadvantaged children and families through local and national services and provides training and consultancy to professionals and organisations.

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Kate at Family Action in Lewisham in January

Kate, who has made early years intervention a cornerstone of her public work, will also have a keen interest in the charity's perinatal mental health services, counselling and therapeutic support and mentoring of children, young people and adults. In a statement announcing her new role, Kensington Palace said: "The Duchess of Cambridge has spent much of the last eight years meeting charities andorganisations who work every day to make our families and communities stronger.

"There is a powerful correlation between a parent or carer's wellbeing and their child’s development, which is why organisations such as Family Action that provide support are instrumental to a child's future. 

"This new patronage aligns with Her Royal Highness' longstanding work on the early years, and the importance of supporting children and families during this seminal period of their lives."

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Kate visiting Family Action at Hornsey Road Children's Centre in 2017

In March 2018 the Duchess set up a steering committee of experts to focus on supporting children from pre-birth to the age of five. She believes that giving children the best possible start in life can help prevent many social and health problems later on.

Family Action's chief executive David Holmes, a member of The Duchess' Early Years steering group, said, "Everyone at Family Action would like to extend our thanks to Her Majesty for her steadfast support and encouragement to us over so many years. I have seen The Duchess's passionate support for disadvantaged families first hand and have been impressed by her leadership in understanding and promoting the vital importance of the Early Years. Family Action looks forward to working with The Duchess in the years to come."

The Duchess visited Family Action in Lewisham, south London, in January this year, to launch its national support line FamilyLine. She and Prince William also visited the charity’s Family Monsters Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May. The Family Monsters Project was launched earlier this year to mark the charity’s 150th anniversary by encouraging families to talk to each other about everyday pressures so they can overcome them together.

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