The need for bereavement support in adult hospices for bereaved children and young people continues to grow. The hospice family support service has recorded an increase of 232% over a two year period in referrals for bereavement group support for families bereaved by expected, sudden and unexpected death within the local community. A new way of managing this increase in referrals was developed and has been trialled over a two year period. Teenage Activity Days and Children and Family Activity Weekends have been developed, offering additional support options for bereaved families. The aims of these groups are to improve emotional wellbeing, improve family relationships and enable families to learn positive coping strategies. These innovative groups provide an alternative means of support. The Teenage Activity Day addresses the gap previously present in group support for teenagers, focusing on developing communication with others through outdoor group activities whilst telling their story. The Children and Family Activity Weekend enables younger children to attend with a parent or carer who remains with them throughout the weekend; working on communication between the child/ren and parent/carer building their relationship following the bereavement, this also includes team building exercises such as climbing and kayaking in an outdoor arena. Following a pilot of both events in 2016, a bid was submitted to the small grants section of the BBC Children In Need fund to cover four more events in 2017 – this was successful and funding was secured. The first weekend in 2017 has taken place, demonstrating benefit for the whole family. Feedback has been very positive: ‘It was awesome’ ‘I don’t feel as shy now; I’ve met other children who feel the same as me’ ‘Remembering doesn’t have to be sad’ These one-off events for families promote communication and relationship building within the family whilst addressing the key issues surrounding the bereavement.
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