Every child is affected very differently by bereavement, and in our Sunbeams group we work with children who are recently or soon to be bereaved to help them to go through the stages of bereavement with special support, and to remember their loved one in a positive and helpful way.
We meet twice a month after school in groups of 8-10 children, led by our two trained nurses, a mentor from a local school, and a volunteer nurse who engage the children in valuable activities and chats which help them to come to terms with their bereavement. They also work alongside schools to help them to support the children during the school day.
Sunbeams is a supportive and homely retreat which parents and carers tell us the children especially look forward to. We all eat a hot meal together and we lay on lovely treats like cakes and biscuits to make it a really special time.
The group follows a light programme of activities which include:
- Crafts, for example, making memory boxes and things to put in the boxes, decorating plant pots and planting bulbs
- Physical activities such as parachute games, letting off balloons
- Writing and drawing to help the children to express their feelings when they are perhaps not ready to talk about them
- Peer support to help the children to talk to others about bereavement
This important programme is well-supported locally: we often have visits from local writers and musicians, and help from many volunteers who make it possible for each child to receive the attention and care that they need.
Sunbeams runs all year apart from the six-week summer holiday, and takes referrals throughout the year. Children are often relatives of hospice patients, but we are able to support any child who has a close relative (a parent, grandparent, uncle or aunt) or friend who is dying or has died in palliative care.
Our staff are on hand to offer support to any adults accompanying the children.