Our young people and children’s bereavement service, the Seahorse Project, funded by Children in Need, is now in its second year and has recently had some exciting developments. In the autumn of 2020 we were grateful to receive a booster grant from Children in Need, allowing us to recruit a new Bank Counsellor for the project.

Earlier in the year we anticipated an increased demand for the bereavement support service. We knew that more children were facing bereavements due to the Covid-19 pandemic and that these were likely to be more complex due to social isolation, increased family pressures and lack of peer support brought on by the lockdown. With the booster grant we were able to respond quickly and flexibly.

When the new Bank Counsellor, Amy, started her role, we tasked her with supporting children and young people over the phone and through Zoom. However, we came to find that some children were struggling with this virtual support – some were unable to access the necessary equipment, while others lacked privacy at home or had short attention spans. We did our utmost to make face to face sessions possible for these children, but this would not have been possible without the support of the new Counsellor. The additional help increased capacity and freed up the time of other staff members, which could now be dedicated to the face-to-face sessions without the response to other referrals being delayed.

During the period between September 2020 and March 2021, the Seahorse Project supported 24 extra young people as a direct result of the additional funding.

Amy said: I've really enjoyed working on the Seahorse Project. To be able to contribute to St Wilfrid’s work and help young people through such difficult experiences has been very meaningful for me. I have to say, it has been challenging to learn to offer therapy sessions online, but I have been very well supported and I really value working alongside such an experienced and skilled team. The young people I have met have been lovely and amazing in their own unique ways. I'm so grateful for having this opportunity.’

Face to face sessions often involve games or drawing to talk through scenarios

The grants we have received from Children in Need have helped children and young people to better deal with their bereavement. Through our work we have helped to improve resilience, increase wellbeing, improve relationships, and reduce anger. In initial counselling sessions 57% of children said the statement ‘Sometimes I feel happy’ felt ‘a bit like me’. By the end of the sessions 85% felt that this sounded ‘quite a lot like me’ or ‘totally like me’.

We have also seen a reduction in insomnia and children increasingly understanding their own emotions, with one individual saying: ‘My emotions have been easier to understand and cope with. I’ve felt calmer.’ 50% of young people in initial counselling sessions said that they felt they could cope with their problems, and by the final sessions this had increased to 70%.

88% of parents felt that their child had difficulty talking about their feelings in initial sessions, but this had halved to 44% in the review sessions. One parent commented: ‘It has made a massive difference to his levels of anxiety; he doesn't worry so much about me. It is lovely to see him happier.’

If you know a child or a young person who may benefit from our bereavement support, whether their loved one has been linked to the hospice or not, please get in touch with us to see if our team can help. You can contact us by making a referral here.

You can also check out the Seahorse Project Instagram page here to find out more about what we do.