How St Wilfrid’s supports bereaved young people

To mark Youth Mental Health Day, our Seahorse Project Co-ordinator, Clare Connelly, talks about the project and her role in helping young people in need.

The Seahorse project at St Wilfrid’s Hospice supports children and young people from 6 to 18-years-old and offers one-to-one bereavement support sessions. We work with young people who may have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, grandparent or family friend.

I joined the hospice in June as Seahorse Project Co-ordinator, with experience in bereavement counselling in two hospices and a children’s charity. I aim to continue the amazing work of the Seahorse Project, which offers vital emotional support to young people through creative therapy, supportive conversations and play.

Our team is experienced at offering a variety of bereavement support activities from memory jars to breath work, as well as signposting families to other local services.

One Seahorse parent explained to me recently that with the help of our project his daughter has ‘transformed from a closed book to a butterfly again’ and that he is ‘starting to get his little girl back’.

David Kesseler, a renowned therapist, said that children are the forgotten grievers. In many cases, they are surrounded by adults who are also grieving.

On Saturday 9th September, families and their children who have been supported by our project came together for the annual Seahorse Stroll. It was a wonderful group event which involved garden games, a delicious picnic and the chance for young people to connect with others who are grieving.

We played with skittles, sand, a giant pack of cards and a colourful parachute in a gloriously sunny Helen Gardens on Eastbourne seafront. Children had decorated a commemorative lantern to remember their loved ones who they are now living without. The lanterns were adorned with beautiful, colourful images of hearts, rainbows, butterflies and patterns and inscribed with words of love.

As we descended to The Italian Gardens, parents and children formed a procession to place their lanterns, and looking around could see that they were not alone in their loss. It was a wonderful and poignant moment for parents and carers, young people and for our fabulous St Wilfrid’s staff and volunteers.

Our Seahorse Project service is a bereavement support service open to anyone living in Eastbourne and the surrounding area who have experienced a bereavement. For more information, visit https://www.stwhospice.org/our-care/family-services/seahorse-project/

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