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The Duchess of Cambridge will visit Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

The Duchess of Cambridge, Patron of Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families, will visit the Centre's Early Years Parenting Unit (EYPU) to learn more about their work with families with children under five years old. This visit marks The Duchess' continued desire to draw attention to child mental health issues and the importance early intervention, and working with the whole family, can make to those in vulnerable situations.

The EYPU opened in April 2011 and offers an assessment and treatment programme for groups of parents with personality disorders, and their children under five years, who are at risk of being taken into care. The treatment seeks to address the parents’ personality disorders; children's developmental needs; and the parent-child relationship. The ultimate aim is to keep families together, and help parents become more aware of, and responsive to, their children's needs, leading to more emotionally attuned parenting. 

During this engagement Her Royal Highness will meet parents who have completed the treatment programme and will hear about their experiences of what bought them to the unit, their time in the programme, and where they are in their lives now. The Duchess will also meet current families as they participate in a 'theraplay' session which promotes the attachment relationship between parents and children. Her Royal Highness will meet our staff members who provide this important and highly specialised treatment programme.

The Duchess will then meet families who have benefited from another of our early years services, Parent Infant Psychotherapy (PIP). The PIP service supports expecting and new parents, placing the relationship between parent and baby at its centre, acknowledging the need to understand and to make sense of the impact that the baby has on the parent and vice-versa.

Peter Fonagy, our Chief Executive, said: “We are very proud of our history of developing and evaluating ways of helping families with infants and small children and are delighted that Her Royal Highness shares our passion for offering support to parents, as early as possible in the child’s life. We are very happy that Her Royal Highness is meeting parents from two of our flagship early intervention services. Her visit is an inspiration to the staff and reinforces the commitment of the families to work to increase their babies’ chances of a resilient future. But more important, by bringing attention to the real difference that early years programmes can make, The Duchess is stimulating interest in similar services throughout the country and right across the world.”

This is The Duchess' second visit to the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families since she became Patron in May last year. The Anna Freud National Centre is also one of the eight partner charities of Heads Together, a mental health campaign led by the Royal Foundation.

The visit marks the launch of the Centre’s spotlight on childhood adversity and trauma. Throughout January the Anna Freud Learning Network will be sharing new insights into the science of early adversity and highlighting the latest approaches to supporting children and families.