Support bereaved parents


Stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands is seeking local volunteers to help establish a new support group in Woodford. Area coordinator Rose Abrehart explains what is needed

“I found out that I had lost my baby just before Christmas. There are no words to describe the utter despair I felt.” Those are the words of a parent who was helped by Sands.

Sands is the leading stillbirth and neonatal death charity in the UK. We work nationally to reduce baby deaths through promoting better maternity care and funding research. We have a programme of training and a wide range of resources designed to support professionals to improve the bereavement care they provide following the death of a baby, and we provide a comprehensive bereavement support service both nationally through our helpline and locally through around 100 regional support groups based across the UK.

Losing your much longed-for baby late in pregnancy or soon after birth is the most awful trauma any parent can experience. A whole future is taken away from that family. Sadly, this happens only too often. Currently, 15 babies a day die in the weeks before or just after birth. Sands aims to care for those families with practical and emotional support for as long as they need it.

We are currently working with Haven House Children’s Hospice and are looking to find volunteers to help us set up a new Sands group in the Wanstead and Woodford area. We need people prepared to become part of a committee, including a chair, treasurer and secretary as well as befrienders.

The chair helps the committee work together as a team, following the aims of Sands and ensuring the group works within the Sands constitution. The treasurer’s role would be especially suitable to anyone with financial acumen as well as an interest or empathy with our work. Not all committee members have to be bereaved parents. As long as you have an empathy and interest in our work, we would urge you to get involved.

Befrienders – who are usually bereaved parents, grandparents or family members – are also needed to provide support to anyone affected by the death of a baby over the phone and in person at group meetings. New befrienders must complete our befriender training, and a minimum of two years must have passed since their baby died.

I hope there are people in and around Woodford who will consider helping to set up a group in the area so we can look to provide support to bereaved parents and their families at a devastating time for them.

Currently, there is little support in the Woodford area for these parents and it is very much needed. I would urge anyone who could help to get in touch.

For information on Sands, visit sands.org.uk. To volunteer, call 07707 480 020 or email rose.abrehart@sands.org.uk