Sunday, 31 May 2015

I recently went on a course through work that was run by Bereavement UK and Elliott's Footprints. 

The course was to enable me to be better equipped to deal with, help and support any children at the school I work going through a bereavement or loss. I also know it will help me with the work in the charity.

It was quite an emotional day as most of the people on the course could recall events from their own lives or work of going through grief.

At the school I work at the children all know about Charlie and many have helped raise funds for our charity. 

As a result of me being very open about Charlie I have found that children in the school who are going through a death in the family seem to come to me for support.

I think the course has helped give me new ways in which to help support these children and has also made me aware of  physical difficulties these children may present with that are actually linked to grief. 

I have known that everyone experiences many emotional and behavioural changes during grief but it shocked me to see what physical changes grief can do.

There has actually been research conducted that has shown that a person going through the death of a close family member or friend can experience a compromised immune system for up to 2 years after the loss. 

This amazed me as no one really takes into account physical difficulties following a loss. 
This information could really help someone who is not being supported at work or school and feels like people are disbelieving them with their illnesses.

This information, for businesses, could really help the person experiencing difficulties actually getting support and help at work.

They also spoke of how peoples concentration and memory can be seriously affected, both adults and children. 
So when I see a child struggling to concentrate or 'zoning out' it might not be that they had a late night or are just being naughty, they could be experiencing a normal reaction to a loss. 

When you work in a school you get to know the kids that are the ones who do zone out as a way of getting out of a lesson but you also get to know the children that this would be unusual behaviour.

The same must be true of adults in a work place.

I used to love to read and would always read every evening before going to sleep. Since Charlie's death I have found it almost impossible to sit and read a book anymore. I can read a magazine as it is in short bursts. I miss not being able to focus on a book and I thought it was probably down to my age but now, after going on the course I wonder if it my bodies reaction to the loss of Charlie.

Many people underestimate the power of grief and loss and dismiss people who are struggling and say things like "are you not over it yet" or " it was ... years ago now". 

This course has made me look at things quite differently and I think I was very understanding of people grieving but it has still made me question how I see children at school. 

I think this kind of training should be offered to all businesses and schools. 
Everyone knows someone who has or is going through a loss and if they understood its effects more and knew ways to support then maybe more people would be able to cope with their grief. 

Support is vital for people grieving, just knowing that there is someone you can reach out to is sometimes enough to help you keep going.

When I return to work I will be meeting with the other staff members to pass on the information and training I have been given.
This will hopefully make our school even better equipped to help and support our pupils.

I wish that this course had been available to school staff when my granddaughters were struggling with the loss of Charlie. They may have been picked up by staff as children who were in need of support. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

From the beginning of this year I have had a really strong feeling that 2015 was going to be a really good year for our charity.

I don't know why I felt like this but maybe it was Charlie making me feel this and letting me know that things were changing.

Well so far 2015 has been very positive for us.

We were very lucky to be nominated and then win the Radio Aire Award for Inspirational Family.

Recently we have also had more local companies show an interest in us and request our leaflets to place in there businesses.
Two local GP surgeries and a local Chemist now stock our leaflets which is a great way for us to get our charity out to families needing support.

We have also been lucky to be accepted to apply for funding from the Aviva Community Fund. If we are lucky enough to win then we could be granted up to 25.000 of funding.

A huge lift for us had to be the news that the Leeds NHS were employing a Lead Bereavement Midwife to cover the LGI and St James. 
We had the pleasure of meeting with her and feel very positive that changes are going to happen to the support families receive on discharge from hospital. 
We do think that it will soon become apparent that just 1 bereavement midwife will not be enough, but we are happy that there has been a change.
It shows us that the NHS are now taking the subject more seriously and that maybe our consistent campaigning has had an impact.

Our 2015 Family Fun Day is also coming along really well. We have had lots of companies willing to support us by donating raffle prizes and their services. It is looking to be a fantastic day both for having fun but for also raising vital funds for us.

I think that for just a normal family thrown into this journey through grief that we have achieved a phenomenal amount. 

All of us would much rather that we had never had to go through this but we truly believe that Charlie was sent to us for a reason.

Charlie's courage and strength have given us the reason to get out there and keep campaigning and fighting for improvements to the current services available.

If 2015 carries on like it has started then this year will be an amazing year for our charity and will get us much closer to opening the doors to our support centre.

Thank You all for your support so far, keep following us and letting as many people as possible know about us.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

I know I keep posting our current campaigns on here but they are so important to us.

If we could secure some funding from the Aviva Community Fund it could mean that we could secure premises to allow us to get our support centre up and running. 

It would also enable us to get the 24 hour telephone helpline running , this would offer support for bereaved parents and families all across the UK.

Our Charlie Bear Packs would also benefit from the funding and allow us to continue to provide packs to children free of charge.

Another of our campaigns could also benefit from the funding;
Our Cuddle Cot Campaign. 
Winning funding would allow us to provide at least one more Cuddle Cot to the local maternity units. 

These Cuddle Cots offer vital time that families need to bond with their child and to allow them to make memories as a family

If everyone of our followers on here, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and the websites all voted I am sure we would be in with a good chance of winning.

Please, Please, Please find it in your heart to take a couple of minutes out of your day to vote for us or donate to our Cuddle Cot Campaign.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Super Hero Awards

This week has been amazing for our charity.

Firstly, we found out that we had been nominated for the Radio Aire Superhero Award for Inspirational Family.

Just the fact that we had been nominated was amazing, to think that people had taken their time to go and vote for us. 
This means such a lot to us and makes us realise that we are reaching people.

The awards took place at The Bewleys Hotel, Leeds on Thursday 7th May.

Myself and Carrie attended the evening, both feeling extremely nervous and excited. 

We were sat at a table with the sponsors of our category, Ison Harrison. We were made to feel very welcome by the staff of Ison Harrison and they quickly put us at our ease.

They asked us about what we had done and our story. They were then telling us about what they did and told us that if we ever need their help or advice to contact them. (They may regret saying that to us, lol). This meant a lot to us and I am quite sure that I will be contacting them in the not to distant future for their expert advice.

The evening was hosted by Radio Aire's breakfast host Kam Kelly. I had met him once before when I took Charlie Bear into the studio to meet the Radio team. 

The awards then began. 

The first award was for the Cash for Kids Bravery Award. It was won by a little 5 year old local girl who has been battling Neuroblastoma. It was very emotional and as she went up to get her award everyone rose to their feet.

Me and Carrie were getting more and more nervous waiting for our turn.

Then we saw our category come up on the screen, as they began talking it became obvious that we had won the award.

As we went up to get our award we clutched each others hand feeling so nervous. 
We were given a beautiful glass award and a huge box of flowers. As we were having our photo taken we could see on the screen Bethan Davies (Radio Aire News)talking about us and what we have been doing. Bethan has given us such brilliant support over the last 2 years.

It felt surreal to think that all these people were applauding for us. Carrie later described it as a very mixed pride. 
It was fantastic to think that through our tireless work over the last 2 years that we had made a difference and that people were aware of what we had and continue to do. But on the other hand it felt that we would rather not have been there, we would rather be at home playing with Charlie.

Carrie summed it up brilliantly, she said that Charlie was obviously sent to us for a reason, he knew that we would make a difference and wouldn't give up.

Thank you Charlie for giving us that strength.

I felt that the evening was really good for us as it spread our name and cause out to even more people. 
Charlie's story is reaching more and more people, changing the face of bereavement support forever.

Hopefully this will be the first of many more awards that Charlie will win. 
We will continue the fight and will continue to campaign for better bereavement support for every family going through the loss of their baby.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Our Campaigns

I am going to share the campaigns and fundraising ways we have for you all to see and hopefully share with all your friends. 

I know we keep sharing them with you but that is because they mean so much to us and we want to get as many people involved as we can.

Our most recent campaign has been the Charlie Cuddle Cot Campaign, raising money to purchase a Cuddle Cot for the bereavement suite at the LGI. This campaign is so close to our hearts and had we had the opportunity to have access to a cuddle cot when Charlie was born it would have given us all so much more time to spend with him.

Another new campaign we have is with the Aviva Community Fund, the voting continues throughout May and then the groups with the most votes go forward to receive grants of anything up to £25,000. This money would be amazing for us as it could enable us to not only get our telephone helpline up and running but could also allow us to rent a property to use as our base.


We have also joined up with Gifts for You, where every purchase made through our page raises money for the charity.


We still have our online petition to the Department of Health asking for changes to the current provisions of bereavement support. The more signatures we get the more pressure it will put on them to review the current provisions. Please go along and sign the petition and ask everyone you know to also sign, it only takes a couple of minutes but could make a lifetimes difference.

We hope that you all can go along to each of these campaigns and have a look at how important it is for us to raise the funds to open Charlies Angel Centre