A new scheme has been launched to support school-children in Leeds who have suffered the loss of a parent or sibling.
Around five per cent of the city's school-children and young people have experienced the death of a close family member and the bereavement support service is something that Leeds City Council leader, Coun Judith Blake staked a case for back in February.
Services will be delivered on behalf of Leeds City Council by national charity ‘Child Bereavement UK’ (CBUK), and range from a telephone helpline, flexible one-to-one support and group sessions.
It has been designed based on feedback from parents of bereaved children who said there was a lack of flexible and immediate support for young people and families following the death of a loved one. They also identified a need for longer term support.
The service has helped over 20 families living in Leeds since it first started operating in March, from practitioners giving advice on the best ways to talk about death to a young child to a key worker providing regular support for families.
Coun Blake said: “We’re delighted to welcome Child Bereavement UK into Leeds to deliver this vital service for children and their families. Whilst there was some support out there through schools and charities, there was no stand-alone service in the city.
“This new partnership will ensure that young people in Leeds have access to support and advice when they need it to help cope with their loss. We look forward to working closely with all partners in the bereavement community to ensure the absolute best support is available whenever a family needs it.”
Shirley Potts, Director of Regional Development for Child Bereavement UK added: "We’re absolutely delighted to have established a service to support bereaved children and their families across the Leeds area.
“Grieving is a natural process, not an illness, but the consequences of unresolved grief issues can be dire. Sometimes struggles with bereavement can be hidden behind challenging behaviour, anxiety or other responses. That’s why we believe in offering basic bereavement support to those who need it.”
How to get in touch
The service is available to young people (up to the age of 18) and their families living in Leeds. Fully trained practitioners will meet with them at a convenient location and the services are all provided free of charge.
For more information visit www.childbereavementuk.org/leeds or call 0113 350 3598.