Anglo Pacific & Winston’s Wish

Supporting children through bereavement

Moved by the experiences of our own staff and impacted by Channel 4’s internationally acclaimed documentary ‘The Mummy Diaries’, Anglo Pacific support a charity providing invaluable support to families and children suffering through bereavement – Winston’s Wish.

Each year, through the Winston’s Wish programme, children and families are able to access the much-needed support to help them through the bereavement. Supported each year by Anglo Pacific, children are supported through the emotional trauma and taught about the importance of their wellbeing and relationships around them. Children are given the encouragement and support to fulfil a happy life and understanding when to seek help.

More than 100 children are bereaved of a parent every day. 41,000 children are bereaved every single year in the UK.

For those who have lost a mother, father or sibling, the Helpline (08452 03 04 05) is the first port of call for guidance and support.

Often immediate advice such as whether or not to include the children in the funeral arrangements is sought from our practitioners. This leads on to questions about a child’s behaviour, conduct at school and the reaction of friends to the news.

Winston’s Wish was founded in 1992 by Julie Stokes OBE and supports children after the death of a parent or sibling, which is one of the most devastating losses a child will ever face.

What Winston’s Wish does:

  • Helps vulnerable children to find the strength to cope with the death of a close family member
  • Provides children and families with someone to turn to and lean on for support in emotional circumstances that they are unlikely to have experienced before.
  • Creates a more positive future for a bereaved child, so that they grow up to be resilient adults, able to talk in a confident way about their bereavement to avoid some of the potential problems associated with suppressed grief, such as anger, low self esteem and depression.
  • Provides initial and ongoing support for bereaved children throughout the UK.
  • Trains other professionals in the field of child bereavement to share our knowledge and expertise.
  • Helps children to realise they are not alone in their grief and understand how death is a part of life.

The team of 29 staff members, many of which are part-time, include:

  • 10 clinically trained practitioners (who provide support to children and their families in person and through the Helpline)
  • 10 administrators/ accounts support
  • 9 fundraisers

Many of these people are part-time. There are also 170 clinically trained volunteers, who work directly with children at Camp Winston, our residential weekend for groups of children.

Children smiling

An example of work they do:

  • Every year 13,000 children and their families use the Winston’s Wish national Helpline as the first point of call to access our services. Afterwards, they are sent award-winning publications, created by Winston’s Wish, for free. One is an activity book for younger children named ‘Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine’ which suggests a series of activities to help children remember the person who has died.
  • Winston’s Wish provides a full programme of support, including Camp Winston, to over 250 families each year.
  • 4 regional hubs, as well as national support.
  • ‘A Child’s Grief’, is sent free of charge to all families who call our Helpline – offering practical advice and information to adults who are caring for a bereaved child. The Helpline continues to be an on-going point of contact throughout the programme.
  • After an ‘at home assessment’, children and their families are invited to attend Camp Winston – a residential weekend for children aged from 6 to 18.

“Peer support groups are one of the best ways to help bereaved children heal. They are allowed and encouraged to tell their stories as much and as often as they like”.

Dr Alan Wolfelt. PhD

Camp Winston is, for many children, their first experience away from home since the death. At the core of this weekend, is the encouragement by our practitioners for parents and children to meet others who have shared similar experiences, to share their stories and gain confidence and self-esteem through team building activities.

Camp activities

  • Encouraging the children to create a memory box, which becomes a keepsake of items to remind them of the person who died. This might include birthday cards, a bottle of their perfume and photographs. Encouraging children to store keepsakes is an important area of our work, as many children are afraid of forgetting the person who has died.
  • A group setting may be the first time a bereaved young person will encounter another bereaved person, an experience that has a uniquely powerful effect on self-esteem and reducing isolation.

    “He’s a completely different person. In the car he was talking all the time. He’s been so quiet since the death; the weekend really brought him out. I was able to talk to him as well. Before camp he never ever talked about it.”
    Parent, July Camp 2005.

Post-camp follow-up

Six weeks later, families are invited to a post-Camp follow up to reflect on their experiences with the practitioners:

  • An opportunity to discuss changes in family communication; any changes in behaviour and of course any concerns that they may have.
  • Open door policy encourages families to access services for as long as they need to.
  • As children reach transitional stages in their life, changes in behaviour are common and parents often seek reassurance and guidance from practitioners.

Impact

Support at the right time can make a lasting and significant difference to a young person’s journey through grief.

The story of Winston

Winston is a great companion and confident of children as he encourages them to share their thoughts and feelings.
For further information please visit www.winstonswish.org.uk or call 01242 546 163.

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