SAIF Regional Meeting provides insight into Child Bereavement

August 5, 2014   //   No Comments

The SAIF regional meeting at the Park Hotel near Aintree on 23rd July attracted a great turnout of forty four attendees.  Guest speaker was Shirley Potts, Regional Development Director of Child Bereavement UK.

Here is an introduction to the charity, with which SAIF has recently partnered, by Chief Executive Ann Chalmers.

As a national charity that supports families when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement, Child Bereavement UK knows from the families it has supported that the way a professional responds to them around the time of a death is something they never forget. As a Funeral Director, you will be aware of the pivotal role you play with families in their experience of bereavement. Helping them to find a personal and meaningful way to say their final goodbye and, through that, creating important memories, is a vital part of the service you offer and a significant part of the grieving experience for the families concerned. Contact with professionals who understand the individuality of grief, and who can respond with empathy and sensitivity to their needs, makes a huge difference to families facing the tragedy of child bereavement.

Through training many Funeral Directors over the past 20 years, the charity is also aware that a child’s funeral, or a funeral where children are involved, can have a significant impact on even the most experienced professional. Those who work at the front line of bereavement – Funeral Directors, bereavement support workers and many other professionals – are dealing on a daily basis with very thing that most people simply find unthinkable; that as a parent you might experience the death of your child at any age, or that a child might be left to face life without their mum or dad, their brother or sister, someone important in their young life. Yet every year this is the experience of thousands of families in the UK.

Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child is dying, or has died, and when children and young people up to the age of 25 are bereaved. Child Bereavement UK’s direct support for families can be accessed via a number of routes. The charity’s national Support and Information line (0800 02 888 40) takes dozens of calls each week from both families and professionals and offers support through confidential listening, information and guidance, and signposting to sources of support around the UK. Face to face support is offered to children, young people, couples and bereaved families at the charity’s Buckinghamshire base, and in a growing number of locations around the UK, including Cumbria, Runcorn and London. Regular booked telephone support sessions are offered to parents bereaved of a child at any age, and to parents concerned for a bereaved child, wherever they are in the UK. The charity’s website hosts a Family Forum, providing an online support community for family members.

The website contains a wealth of information for both families and professionals, with a bank of information sheets and articles that can be downloaded free of charge. A range of publications, many of which have been recognised in the BMA Patient Information Awards, have been produced with input from bereaved families.

Each year, through a comprehensive programme of workshops, study days and conferences, Child Bereavement UK trains over 4000 professionals who come into contact with grieving families in the course of their work. Integral to the charity’s work is the belief that if families are to get the best possible care and support in situations of child bereavement, then the professionals they encounter also need to be supported in what can be a particularly challenging aspect of their work.

Child Bereavement UK has a strong belief in the benefits of partnership working and collaboration to better meet the needs of grieving families, and is delighted to be looking at ways in which it can be working more closely with SAIF and supporting its members. The untimely deaths of children and of parents often see families in unchartered territory, where sensitive support and guidance that enables them to make informed choices that are right for them, as individuals and as a family, are vital.

Child Bereavement UK looks forward to developing its work in collaboration with SAIF, which gives the charity a wonderful opportunity to increase awareness of its work. A range of information leaflets about the charity’s bereavement services, contact cards for families, fundraising in memory leaflets and donations envelopes can be ordered free of charge from the charity by contacting enquiries@childbereavementuk.org.

Ann Chalmers, Chief Executive

Child Bereavement UK