boys playing with small action figures

Thanks to a booster grant from BBC Children in Need, bereaved children will be receiving individual therapeutic packs so they can return to face-to-face counselling at leading Derbyshire hospice, Treetops.

BBC Children in Need have helped fund the senior families counsellor post at Treetops Hospice Care for over three years. An additional grant of £4,500 was awarded earlier this month so that children who have lost a loved one can bring their own packs with them to and from their weekly sessions at the hospice, based in Risley.

During the Coronavirus pandemic, whilst Treetops buildings have been closed to the public, the charity quickly adapted its services to offer online and telephone counselling for adults and teenagers.

Experienced the loss of a parent, a sibling or other close relative

Girl's hands making memory boxBut online counselling is simply not practical for children under 11yrs old as Jules Kirk, Therapeutic Services Manager and Head of Children’s Services, explained:

“We have approximately 40 children aged from 7-11 years old who have been receiving bereavement counselling here at Treetops.

“Their bereavements are wide ranging. They might have experienced the loss of a parent, a sibling or other close relative. The deaths may have been expected – such as those who have a parent with a life-limiting condition – but we also counsel children whose bereavement has been traumatic or unexpected, such as with suicide.

“At the start of lockdown, we had to explain to all our young clients that we couldn’t hold their regular sessions here at Risley which was very hard for everyone – our clients, volunteer counsellors and staff members.

Regular wellbeing phone calls and  therapeutic care packages

two children at doorway smiling

Treetops hand-deliver care packages to bereaved youngsters

“We’ve been able to offer counselling online for older children, as well as adults and families, but for children under 11, this just wasn’t possible for many reasons. Some children didn’t have a quiet confidential space to have their session and others didn’t have the technology.

“Whilst we sought a solution, we’ve been making regular wellbeing phone calls to parents of the children affected and also hand-delivered therapeutic care packages.”

The packs will contain many of the therapeutic materials similar to those found in the bespoke children’s counselling rooms at Treetops, along with felt tip pens and creative activities used to help children process their grief.

Without these packs, many children just wouldn’t be able to receive the valuable support they really need at this time

Jules said:

Child and adult look at counselling cards“All the materials help children express their emotions and feelings. The children will bring these packs with them for their sessions and then take them away so won’t need to use or touch anything within the counselling rooms. This helps keep everyone safe and eliminates cross contamination.

“We’re really grateful to BBC Children in Need for responding so quickly to our request. Without these packs, many children just wouldn’t be able to receive the valuable support they really need at this time. And it means we now have the facilities to take on new clients who require the face-to-face bereavement support.”

Essential help to children and young people in urgent need of support

Melinda Connelly, BBC Children in Need regional head of the Central Region said:

“The Booster grant programme was developed in response to the current crisis, to support local charities and organisations across the UK who are providing essential help to children and young people in urgent need of support.

“At a time where many of our projects are having to adapt and find new ways of supporting children and young people in need of help, we are delighted to be awarding a Booster grant to Treetops Hospice Care.”

Last year, Treetops Hospice Care provided over 1,100 bereavement sessions for children and families, over 3,000 adult bereavement counselling sessions, and over 600 support sessions for people dealing with a life-limiting condition.

Counselling is available to all users of Treetops Hospice Care services and people registered with a GP practice in Derby city or Southern Derbyshire.

Treetops is doing all it can to continue to support those in most need. However, the charity predicts a huge loss in income in the coming months, due to the temporary closure of all their charity shops during lockdown and cancellation of many fundraising events. The hospice launched an Emergency Appeal.