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Supporting bereaved children at ellenor

Blog post   •   Apr 10, 2019 09:00 BST

Children at one of our GEMS group days

To celebrate National Siblings Day, we thought that we would share with you the incredible care and support our Children’s Team provide to bereaved children when they have lost someone close to them – a sibling, parent or grandparent.

Losing a sibling can be very difficult for a child to cope with as their parents are also grieving – this may cause the child to feel as if they have no-one to turn to. As part of our Children’s Bereavement and Counselling Service, we have been piloting a support group called GEMS (Grief, Every Memory is Special) through funding received from Kent County Council. The group is made up of between ten to fifteen bereaved children and they meet together for a day during the school holidays to join in therapeutic activities as a group, supported by ellenor’s specialist therapists and counsellors.

“I really enjoyed myself and it was nice to meet people who are in a similar position to me and make new friends. I enjoyed the teamwork activities too.” – Bereaved child who attended one of our GEMS group days.

GEMS is an important part of our Children’s Bereavement and Counselling Service as, very often, bereaved children feel lonely and isolated following the death of a sibling or close relative. It is unlikely that they have peers at school who have experienced a similar situation – such as the illness or death of a sibling or close relative. Many children who have experienced this find it difficult to talk to their friends about their loss, and if they have had additional caring responsibilities for their sibling or close relative they may not have been able to access social activities that others may take for granted.

“My son attended the GEMS event which is always very welcoming – it’s great for him to see other children. He always has fun and I believe it’s vital for the development of his feelings and his future. Thank you all as always.” – Parent of bereaved child who attended one of our GEMS group days.

The main aim of this group is to provide bereaved children with an opportunity to meet others in a similar situation to themselves in a safe, contained environment where they can share experiences and explore and express their thoughts and feelings around their grief. This is undertaken through a mix of creative therapy and fun, child-friendly activities. It also enables ellenor to offer holistic support for the whole family.

Rebecca Scalzo, Head of Children’s Services, says: “The importance of providing specialist bereavement support for children cannot be underestimated. The impact of loss and grief can be enormous and have lasting effects on the child’s longer term mental health and wellbeing. By offering a range of services to support children who have been bereaved we can ensure children are able to access support in a way they feel comfortable with and which is tailored to their specific needs. The feedback we receive from the children and families who attend GEMS events is overwhelmingly positive and I am very proud of the therapeutic work which takes place here at ellenor.”

If you would like to find out more about GEMS, please contact our Children’s Team on 01474 320007.

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