PRINCE HARRY has been asked for financial support to help safeguard part of a digital organisation’s counselling service targeting the military, veterans and their families.
In an unusual step, James de Bathe, commercial director of the Big White Wall, jokingly appealed to Harry’s Royal Foundation for funding when the Prince visited the organisation to highlight its work helping civilians and the military with mental health problems.
The Big White Wall provides a range of services from its popular peer-to-peer community support group for those with issues from anxiety to stress, to a contract helping the military and their families cope with problems like post traumatic stress disorder and depression.
The Prince was impressed by the work, telling senior staff: ‘It’s fantastic what you are doing, this community spirit is amazing, because so many actual communities don’t even know their neighbours any more.
‘Everyone’s on a bloody tablet or the internet and actually what you’ve done, you’ve created a community online – yes, fine you can argue Facebook and people have done that as well – but these are genuine conversations where actually you’re supporting and helping each other.’
Harry chatted to therapists and senior staff from the organisation in their central London offices and when he was told they wanted to provide an additional service to their military users, he asked how was this to be funded.
Mr de Bathe replied to laughter from his team: ‘The Royal Foundation.’
He went on to explain to the Prince that two thirds of the funding, £100,000 each from the Ministry of Defence and NHS England, for all their military work, was due to end at the close of this financial year.
Mr de Bathe told the Prince about the Big White Wall’s service for the military: ‘Conversations are ongoing but it’s a challenge and it is at risk.’
Before leaving, Harry joked that he should join the Big White Wall’s online peer-to-peer service that has helped tens of thousands of people during the past ten years.
Mr de Bathe said after the visit that the potential two thirds deficit in the funding for his organisation’s military contract would have a significant impact.
He said: ‘We’re going to have to scale it down if we don’t find another way of funding it, that’s the reality of what we can deliver with the funding we’re left over with.’
But he remained positive about the effect Harry’s visit had on his organisation: ‘It’s just going to really shine a spotlight on the fact digital is here, it’s mature, we are delivering results, we’ve got thousands of people using it.’