Shortlisted Nominee for the National Diversity Awards 2016 Community Organisation Award for Multi-Strand
We were amazed to receive the email from The National Diversity Awards telling us that we had been shortlisted for an award.
We are just an ordinary family doing what we can to make a difference to the face of bereavement support after the loss of a baby or child.
We lost Charlie Arthur Curtis on 29th December 2012 at 19 minutes of age from a rare condition called Potters Syndrome.
Charlie’s mummy left hospital on the 31st December with just a brown envelope containing leaflets. The family were still numb and we didn’t really know what needed to be done.
The follow up medical support that should have been given was not, and a midwife only visited when we contacted her to say that Charlie’s mum was unwell.
We soon came to the realisation that the support for bereaved parents and families is severely lacking. This is what spurred us on to make a difference.
The decision to set up our charity was quite easy for us as we could not sit back and let other families go through what we had.
There needed to be something out there for bereaved parents and their families to be able to access, to help them at their most vulnerable time.
We are based in the Middleton area of Leeds but we support families from across the UK.
When we founded the charity we thought that we would start out just trying to give help and support to the people in our local community, but it became apparent quickly that help was needed much further afield.
As part of our initial development we contacted our local radio station, Radio Aire, to see if this was an issue they would be interested in covering. This was the beginning of a great relationship with their news reporter Bethan Davis. Bethan was more than happy to interview us and give our charity a voice within the media. She became so interested in our cause that she requested a Freedom of Information report into the provision of bereavement support and counselling within Leeds. When this report arrived we were all horrified. In just Leeds alone there were 32,000 people awaiting bereavement support. How can this be an acceptable situation?
Spurred on by this we approached our local CCG for a meeting to discuss the situation. We also set up a petition on Change.org asking the Department of Health to change and improve the current provisions of bereavement support.
We continue to campaign locally and nationally and will keep on going until there is adequate support out there for all families.
Through our campaigning we have already been influential in changes that have been made to the current services available.
A Bereavement Midwife has now been employed by the local NHS to provide support to families.
There has also been a review of bereavement services in Leeds which we feel we were influential in as well.
The most commonly spoken about loss is stillbirth, but in reality we have found that there are lots of other conditions and situations how loss happens.
We support families who have lost their child through early miscarriage, stillbirth, genetic conditions, neo natal loss and recently have also been supporting families who have lost small children. We also support families whose loss can be recent but can also be several years ago.
Our philosophy is that if the family needs support, it doesn’t matter how long ago the loss was, we will be there for them.
We are now getting support, friendship and bereavement counselling to so many families across the UK. Our counsellors all donate their time to us, and what started as them giving 1 hour a week has grown to them giving full days to us. This still amazes us and we are so grateful to them. We now get families started with bereavement counselling usually within a week of referral whereas NHS waiting lists can be anything from 6 – 18 months. Lots of the families we support have become isolated and feel very alone, we are trying to help them get back out into society.
We receive no funding and all the money we have has been raised by us through many varied events. We now have families and supporters that raise money for us as well, often as a thank you for the support they have received from us. We are always looking for new ideas to raise our vital funds and would love to get more businesses involved as sponsors.