Duke of Sussex video calls families of vulnerable children in the UK

The Duke of Sussex praised the “super-parents” who care for seriously ill children as he heard about the additional challenges they are facing during the coronavirus crisis.

He spoke to families supported by WellChild, a children’s charity he has been patron of since 2007, on a video call last Thursday to hear how they are coping during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Joining the 30-minute call, Prince Harry said: “I think it’s certainly strange times.

"Everyone is experiencing the same thing in a very unique way.

"The longer this goes on for, I imagine, certainly, the harder it is for each and every one of you.

"It’s very nice to see the familiar faces on here.

"How’s it been?

"Where do we even start?”

Leanne Cooper, whose 13-year-old daughter Sophie has cerebral palsy, dystonia and scoliosis, told him the situation was “terrifying”.

Ms Cooper said: “She [Sophie] does need a high level of care and we need to give her that.

"The virus aside, that doesn’t stop, we still have to give that volume of care, 24/7.

"Now, with the virus, on top of everything else, with us in isolation and lockdown, I can’t even put into words just how scary a time it is.

“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.”

Craig Hatch cares for his 21-year-old son Fraser, who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, neuromuscular scoliosis, osteoporosis, chronic lung disorder and Type 1 diabetes.

He said: “It’s scary.

"We are frightened because we know if the virus gets in our house, if Fraser contracts the virus, then we know the implications of that are quite severe and we also don’t know how we would cope with any hospital admission.

“We are getting all the supplies in that we need to get but we’re always worried that they’re going to run out, we’re not going to get the prescriptions that we need.”

Harry told the parents: “The resilience and the strength that you guys have is absolutely incredible.

"You must never, ever, ever forget that.

"Of course, there’s going to be hard days.

"I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is for you guys.

“To see what you guys are going through on a day-to-day basis, so much respect to every single one of you.

"You are a shining example of being super-parents and spinning so many plates and juggling so many balls at the same time.

“Of course, there’s that fear of what might happen but there’s so much that’s out of our control.

"All of a sudden we realise how small we are in the grand scheme of things.”

WellChild Chief Executive Colin Dyer, who was also on the call, said: “A lot of families are finding it difficult getting themselves included on ‘vulnerable’ lists.

"These families are always isolated and hidden.

"Now they are more isolated and more hidden than ever before.

"Getting recognition that they are among the most vulnerable people that we’ve got in this country is really tough because the focus just doesn’t seem to be on families like this.”

Before the call ended, Harry said he wanted to “cause a bit of chaos and invite all the children in”.

He told the group: “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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