Kate Middleton says Covid pandemic 'exacerbated' struggles families were facing in conversation with food bank volunteer

KATE Middleton said the Covid pandemic has "exacerbated" the struggles that families face in a conversation with a food bank volunteer.

The Duchess of Cambridge spoke to Sami, who began helping out at the Community Food Hub in Hackney, East London, while his partner Helen was working at one of the Nightingale Hospitals.

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During his first day, photographer Grey Hutton was taking pictures of volunteers at the food hub as part of the National Geographic's Covid Emergency Fund for Journalists when he decided to take a picture of Sami.

The image of Sami, which shows him standing outside of the food bank wearing PPE and smiling, is among 100 photographs chosen for Kate's Hold Still project.

In a phone call with Sami, which was published on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's YouTube channel on Monday, Kate said his story was "fascinating."

The photo was included in the exhibition to highlight the "amazing work" being done by communities during the pandemic.

Kate Middleton said: "I think there is a real desperate need, wasn't there?

"I think the struggles that families, the kids had were there anyway but then everything's been exacerbated.

Sami added: "That's exactly how it was.

"I learnt so much in my time as a volunteer there."

The Duchess said she was "thrilled" to have his image as part of the final selection, while Sami said it felt "really awesome" to have been chosen.

The Hold Still project encouraged the public to document life through photographs during the pandemic.

It has since been turned into an exhibition and book.

The heartfelt conversation comes after the Duchess kept her promise to a little girl who wanted to meet a princess dressed in her favourite colour pink.

The Duchess of Cambridge proved true to her word when she invited little Mila Sneddon and her family to the Queen's official Edinburgh home, wearing an ME+EM outfit that matched the five-year-old's dress.

Outgoing Mila, who is battling cancer, captured the duchess' heart during lockdown – and when they met today, Kate told her she wanted to give her a "big squeezy cuddle".

Mila is undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia and was pictured separated from her dad during the first lockdown, after he had to go to work and could not risk bringing coronavirus into the family home in Falkirk.

The photo – which showed Mila kissing her dad through their kitchen window – was featured in Kate's lockdown photography project and came to symbolise isolation during the pandemic.

Kate and Mila talked on the phone after the image was among 100 selected for the duchess' Hold Still exhibition and book, and agreed to meet up.

During the call, Mila asked the Duchess: "Do you have a costume?"

Kate replied: "I'm not wearing a princess costume right now, I'm afraid Mila. Do you have lots of dressing-up outfits yourself?"

Mila replied: " Yeah" and told the Duchess her favourite colour was pink.

The Duchess replied: "OK, well I have to make sure I go and try and find myself a pink dress so that hopefully, when one day hopefully, Mila we'll get to meet and then I'll remember to wear my pink dress for you. Would that be nice?"

Mila replied with excitement: "Yay!"

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