The King has backed this year’s Big Help Out as he recovers at home from hospital treatment, describing the volunteering drive as “all the more important at a time of real hardship for many”.
In his first statement released since spending three nights in The London Clinic undergoing a procedure for an enlarged prostate, Charles urged the public to sign up to lend a hand in June.
The King, 75, who is not currently undertaking public duties while he recuperates, described the event as an opportunity to build “kinder, closer communities”.
#TheBigHelpOut returns 7-9 June 2024!🥳
— The Big Help Out (@TheBigHelpOut24) January 30, 2024
His message, which was signed Charles R, was written before he underwent treatment for his benign condition, and it was read out by his communications secretary Tobyn Andreae at a launch event at the Royal Geographical Society on Tuesday evening.
Some seven million people volunteered during the first Big Help Out which formed part of the coronation celebrations last May.
The Prince and Princess of Wales and their children Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis lent a hand renovating a Scout hut and its grounds in Slough.
To mark the launch of the second Big Help Out, which will be staged over three days from Friday June 7 to Sunday June 9, the King said: “I have long believed that one of the greatest strengths of our nation is our ability to come together and help each other through times of hardship.
“Throughout my life, I have been encouraged and inspired by those selfless volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to helping others, across all communities and across the full breadth of our country.”
He added it was “wonderful” to hear of the millions who took part last time, describing it as a “source of great pride to my whole family” that the coronation celebrated kindness and “service to others”.
The King said: “It was a source of great pride to my whole family that, thanks to all these millions who took part, the coronation became a moment not just to celebrate continuity and nationhood, but also the values that we have long held dear: kindness, compassion and service to others.
“As I said in my Christmas broadcast last year, this is all the more important at a time of real hardship for many, when we need to build on existing ways to support others less fortunate than ourselves.
“In so doing, we also bring out the best in ourselves.”
He said he was “delighted” to be supporting the Big Help Out 2024, which is hoping to involve schools and businesses this year, and he cited supporting a local food bank, tending to a community garden and spending time with a vulnerable person as examples of a “worthy cause”.
The King said: “Young people’s energy and enthusiasm can be enormously valuable, and business is a vital part of the fabric of both our local communities and of our wider society.
“So, if you are able, I can only encourage you to support the Big Help Out once more, thereby helping to build the kinder, closer communities of which we can all be so proud.”
Others supporting the launch include astronaut Tim Peake and broadcasters Gaby Roslin and Anneka Rice.
Charles waved to the media and well-wishers as he left hospital on Monday with the Queen at his side, ready for a “period of private recuperation”.
The Big Help Out is back! Over 7 million people volunteered in last year's event, and from 7-9 June, you can take part again
73% of volunteers say getting involved gives them more confidence, according to research by the @NCVO
The Big Help Out exists to raise awareness of… pic.twitter.com/pEBuE4sHsn
— Department for Culture, Media and Sport (@DCMS) January 30, 2024
It is reported he could take up to a month off from public duties.
The Prince and Princess of Wales are also not currently carrying out official engagements as Kate recovers at home after two weeks in hospital following major abdominal surgery, with William stepping back temporarily from his royal role to care for her and their children.
Organisers are urging volunteers to save the date and register and search for events on the updated Big Help Out App.
As part of the initiative, FareShare and the Felix Project, leaders of the Coronation Food Project, will be driving volunteers to new coronation food hubs which will be opening later this year.
Jon Knight, chief executive of the Together coalition, said: “This year, the Big Help Out is shaping up to be another incredible festival of volunteering.
“If enough people can pledge to lend a hand on June 7-9, there’s no limit to the amount of good that can be done in communities up and down the country.”