THE PRINCESS OF WALES visited HMP High Down in Surrey on Tuesday ahead of Addiction Awareness Week to hear about the efforts of The Forward Trust she supports as patron.
In a move that is seen as an important step towards improving awareness and mental health and wellbeing in the Prison System, Catherine visited the prison in her role as patron of The Forward Trust – which supports those in the criminal justice system to manage and recover from their addictions – to look at ways of making the visitor experience more positive for families, in particular children.
She sat with her hands on her knees for a check by drug detection dog Penny and was impressed when shown the black Labrador has been trained to sit very still if she detects drugs, rather than barking.
Kate said: “Amazing. It’s incredible, it’s very calm and controlled. It’s not intimidating.”
The princess was told about the programmes offered to help the prisoners with their addictions and spoke to a group of men whose addictions started the journey that ended with them in prison.
She said afterwards: “I asked one of the guys, ‘Would you have liked help [with your addiction] earlier?’ And he said, ‘Yes, but I didn’t know I needed it.’”
Catherine also visited The Clink, an on-site restaurant that is run by prisoners with The Clink Charity and is open to the public, with the inmates studying for qualifications in cooking, cleaning and food service as they work and offered mentoring when they are released.
She said: “Well done, it smells delicious.”
Richard Stephenson, who has battled addiction and was helped by The Forward Trust more than 20 years ago, was there with his family.
He said after meeting the princess: “It’s really important people from different genres take interest and ask questions.
“It’s about believing people can change… I’m a professional now. It’s really important to come from that and meet someone who may be a future queen.”
Catherine previously revealed she plays on the trampoline with her children as part of her fitness regime.
Asked if she went to the gym, she said earlier this year:”It’s running around after the children – I do it all, whenever I can squeeze in exercise I do, even jumping on the trampoline with my children before school.”