We are absolutely delighted to announce that our Chief Executive, Victoria Hornby, has been recognised with an OBE for her Services to the Charitable Sector during the Covid-19 pandemic in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2022.
Mental Health Innovations was founded by The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in November 2017 with its largest ever grant. Victoria launched Shout 85258, the UK’s first free text messaging support service, in May 2019.
As a digital 24/7 service, Shout has been able to operate as normal through the Covid-19 pandemic when face-to-face services were not so readily accessed. This, combined with the significant toll that Covid-19 took on the nation’s mental health, led to a huge increase in demand for the service.
Before the pandemic, Shout took around 750 conversations a day. This number has more than doubled; in December 2021, Shout has taken an average of 1,600 daily conversations with people in distress.
Throughout the pandemic, Shout Volunteers have taken around 800,000 conversations with 315,000 children, young people and adults needing immediate support with their mental health.
At the start of the pandemic, Victoria recognised the urgent need to support the mental health of the UK’s hugely important frontline carers, bluelight emergency services and all key workers who were putting themselves not only at physical risk in supporting the public through the pandemic, but also putting their mental health under immense short and long-term pressure.
She worked with the CEOs of the Samaritans, Mind and Hospice UK, and with the support of The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on the creation of Our Frontline. This pioneering coalition, launched in April 2020, brought together services from all four partners, enabling all frontline workers to access 24/7 emotional support by text, phone or online resources.
Our Frontline has reached and supported tens of thousands of frontline staff in need of mental health support since launch:
- Shout has taken 24,275 conversations with frontline workers, largely suffering from issues of anxiety and stress, Covid-19 related issues and facing depression and sadness
- Hospice UK’s trauma and counselling helpline has taken 743 calls, mainly from nurses and mental health support workers.
- Samaritans has received 26,000 calls from health and social care workers
- The Our Frontline website, hosted by Mind, has seen 277,000 page views of resources, help and information
Victoria said: “It’s been a privilege to be able to support those in need of ‘in the moment’ help with their mental health over the incredibly challenging months of the pandemic. Children and young people in particular respond to Shout’s digital nature and we’ve been able to provide support to those in distress. who didn’t have anywhere else to turn.
"In addition, it’s been wonderful to work alongside Hospice UK, Mind and Samaritans, with the support of The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, to provide the support our most important workers have needed through the Covid-19 pandemic through the Our Frontline campaign. Our priority has been to make sure we look after and then rebuild and recover the mental health of our frontline workers, who have given so much to others in these difficult months.”
Prior to Victoria becoming CEO of Mental Health Innovations, she was Director of Programmes of The Royal Foundation from 2011 to 2017. Before joining the Foundation, Victoria was a Senior Executive at the Sainsbury Family Charitable Trusts and CEO of an international development charity. She began her career as Field Director of an aid agency, living and working in Eastern Europe for four years. Alongside her day job, Victoria is a Director of Social Finance, adviser to the Charles Dunstone Charitable Trust, and a trustee of The Westminster Foundation and the Bridges Impact Foundation.