Children in Need: Saint Francis Hospice provide vital support for children going through grief

PUBLISHED: 07:31 20 November 2020 | UPDATED: 07:38 20 November 2020

Emily Gray giving an art therapy session. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Emily Gray giving an art therapy session. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Saint Francis Hospice

Saint Francis Hospice talk about their work supporting children through grief, supported by Children in Need.

Shahina Haque with Pudsey. Picture: Saint Francis HospiceShahina Haque with Pudsey. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Therapist Emily Gray and councillor Stella Christou have helped 60 young people through the pandemic offering online therapy sessions and telephone sessions.

They created around 50 packs for young people which they delivered socially distance, to stop young people feeling alone at their time of grief. These packs had art materials and resources that they could use during their online sessions.

Shahina Haque, manager of the charity’s Family Support Services team said: “Without the support from Children in Need, we would struggle to get the much needed therapeutic support to vulnerable children and young people.

“With grief, generally children can be at times forgotten or misunderstood, and having Stella and Emily supporting them, they are able to give the young person their voice and see and hear them.

Emily Gray with art packs. Picture: Saint Francis HospiceEmily Gray with art packs. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

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She added that the pandemic and lockdowns had created huge challenges for the team but it was vital it continued to get support to the young people under its care.

“It wasn’t only important to acknowledge and support young people with their loss and grief, but also their mental well-being and the impact the pandemic was having on them and on their loss.

“Like all of us, young people were hearing over and over again at the beginning, the number of deaths that the virus was taking and like many they were worried about their loved ones, like their grandparents, or their mother who has cancer, would they get Covid-19 and die.”

Therapist Emily Gray said: “I recently finished working with a young child whose mother had sadly died.

“The child found it difficult to verbalise how she felt. Art therapy gave her the opportunity to communicate her feelings to me and we explored them together over a number of weeks, at school before the pandemic and online video sessions throughout lockdown.

“She decorated a memory box to remember her mother and made images in her sessions which helped her feel connected to her mother which we could talk about together. It was wonderful to witness her begin to look forward to her future and see her enjoying things again.”

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