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O-6 School is the link for children facing loss
  1. Marilyn Dyas
  1. Trinity Hospice, Blackpool, UK


Background As an adult and children’s hospice we support children (4–18 years) and their siblings through our bereavement and pre-bereavement services. We provide counselling and therapeutic groups for all types of bereavement, and counselling for children living with progressive ill-health. Supporting the Government’s agenda (Department for Education, 2016) to see all schools providing access to counselling, our unique schools link service was developed to support more children, and expanded to cover any significant loss, not just bereavement. Our paid coordinator supports 74 schools by upskilling a member of school staff to support these children, whilst also identifying children who need specialised support with access to our trained counsellors.

Aims Targeting all children affected by grief and loss: providing education and support to school staff, the parents and families, alongside counselling and therapy programmes for pupils. Giving help closer to home, via a trusted school staff member, and helping kids keep some semblance of ‘normality’ in their lives, when everything else might feel as though it is falling apart. Training a link worker in every primary/secondary school with our service and offering guidance around bereavement and significant loss. Teachers are on the frontline when it comes to the emotional wellbeing of pupils, they are the crucial element in providing that stability for children struggling with loss.

Method Model of training a link worker with ongoing support from the coordinator, within each school is both cost effective but also upskilling staff.

Results Started with 46 schools, now 74, and plan to expand.

Conclusion Providing teachers with extra skills they can steer a child through even the most challenging situations. Additional support from the schools link service has dramatically changed the way youngsters are helped. Many of these children would drop out of education for a time: with our schools link service, they stay in.

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