The Duchess of Cambridge made an unannounced visit to HMP Send in Surrey this morning. The female prison also has a 20 bed Addictive Treatment Unit, an 80 bed Resettlement Unit and a 40 bed Therapeutic Community. Her Royal Highness focused her visit on their treatment of addiction along with London-based charity RAPt (The Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust).
RAPt works with HMP Send to offer specialised support for addiction. They offer one of the few 12-step dug and alcohol prison-based programs in the UK. According to the charity, 66% of their program’s 5,000+ graduates stay drug and alcohol free 3 months after release.
Kate arrived mid-morning to the surprise of the press and the female prisoners. The prisoners were aware of an important visit, but some speculated it was Russell Brand – Brand is an ardent supporter of recovering addicts and former convicts. However, when it was learned that the Duchess was visiting, she was greeted with warmth and kindness.
Along with meeting staff and volunteers, Kate visited a family therapy session and met with families, successful graduates, and current prisoners going through RAPt’s therapies. She spoke with the women prisoners about their struggles with addiction, and how addiction played a key role in their criminal offenses. Before leaving, Kate received a gift from Isha Walker, who is currently going through the RAPt program. Her Royal Highness received two small aprons (for a certain little prince and princess?!), a jar of honey from bees kept at the prison, and pastries baked by the inmates!
The Duchess of Cambridge has shown a progressive and powerful interest in the dramatic effects of addiction. Along with her patronage of Action on Addiction, Her Royal Highness has visited and brought much-needed attention to numerous charities, such as Hope House (in February 2013) and today’s visit to HMP Send. She has advocated for the families and children affected by addiction, in a hope to break the cycle. Most importantly, the Duchess of Cambridge unequivocally states that addiction is a medical issue to be treated and supported in the medical community.
At the end of the event, the Duchess gave a personal statement: “Addictions lie at the heart of so many social issues. Substance misuse can play such a destructive role in vulnerable people’s lives. Failure to intervene early in life to tackle mental health problems and other challenges can have profound consequences. I am grateful to the woman I met for sharing their difficult personal stories with me.”
In an effort to promote the importance of today’s events, we will keep our sartorial conversations brief. The Duchess wore a dress from The Fold London and Jimmy Choo shoes, and carried a clutch from Hobbs.
Today’s event showed a great focus on very serious issues – mental health, addiction, recovery, and rehabilitation. Today’s gritty, yet quiet and unpretentious visit to Her Majesty’s Prison Send shows Her Royal Highness’s dedication to mental health awareness in many forms – child, adult, innocent, and convicted.