The Duke of Sussex spoke to families caring for seriously ill children at home, supported by one of his patronages, WellChild, during the Easter weekend. In his engagement since stepping back from royal life on 31 March, Prince Harry chatted with Craig Hatch in Cumbria and Leanne Cooper in Lincoln during the personal call from his new home in Los Angeles.
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WATCH: A clip from Prince Harry's personal call to families supported by WellChild
They were joined by WellChild CEO Colin Dyer and nurse Rachel Gregory, and during the call, Harry heard about the challenges of social isolation and the fears of families reliant on carers coming into their homes to help with the round-the-clock, complex medical care that their children need. He also heard how many who have not been included on 'vulnerable' lists were struggling to access support and basic supplies.
Craig cares for his 21-year-old son, Fraser, who has Cerebral palsy, Epilepsy, Neuro muscular scoliosis, Osteoporosis, Chronic lung disorder and Type 1 diabetes. He said: "It's scary. We are frightened because we know that if the virus gets in our house and if Fraser contracts the virus, the implications are quite severe."
Leanne, whose 13-year-old daughter Sophie has Cerebral palsy, Dystonia, Scoliosis and multiple complex medical needs, said: "There is a lot of information out there, but not a lot for vulnerable families and certainly not for children with complex medical
needs. If we're in a position where carers can't come to work because they might be symptomatic, there is no way we would survive when Sophie needs care seven nights a week, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. It is terrifying."
Harry speaking with families and children on the video call
The Duke spoke with the families about how they're coping in the current circumstances under lockdown in the UK and what they do to manage stress, with Leanne revealing that they enjoy throwing paint around the garden or making bread during quality family time.
Harry, whose son Archie celebrates his first birthday next month, praised parents and carers on the call, saying: "The resilience and the strength that you guys have is obviously incredible and you must never ever, ever forget that."
In a touching moment at the end of the 30-minute call, Harry asked to see the children and sent a message of encouragement to the families. He said: "Full respect to every single one of you. This is hard on everyone, but it is especially hard on you. I know that WellChild are doing everything they can to support you. Hopefully, through this video we can make it more clear and obvious to government and everybody else that you are in the 'vulnerable' bracket and WellChild needs more help.
"It is really nice to see you all smiling and happy. Keep going, keep the morale up, keep busy, keep being creative, dare yourself to try new hobbies and I hope to see you all again very, very soon!"
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Meghan and Harry arriving at the WellChild Awards 2019
CEO Colin Dyer said: “We are so lucky to have The Duke as WellChild Patron. He has always been so supportive of our work and keen to understand the challenges that families with seriously ill children are facing. Having his help in shining a light on the reality of life behind closed doors for this too often forgotten group of families is invaluable, especially at such a difficult and uncertain time."
Harry has been patron of WellChild since 2007 and his wife, Meghan, joined him at the awards last year and in 2018.
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