Children from Plymouth and the immediate surrounding area are put in touch with us for support when they have experienced or are anticipating the death of someone special. We usually begin with a conversation with each family. For some this might offer enough reassurance or ideas to help. Where a family would like more, then an initial home visit is usually offered so that we can hear how things have been and decide together, how we can be of most use. In the last year we have directly supported nearly 350 children and young people.
The types of support that we offer may be:
Short Term Therapeutic Group Programme – when someone special has died.
Many of the children, who we meet, say that they feel alone in their grief because they feel like they are the only one in their class or school who has been bereaved. Attending one of the group programmes means that they meet other children who have been through something similar and truly understand the impact a bereavement can have. We run three short term therapeutic group programmes each year during school term times. Sessions are held on weekly basis during the evening and we have separate groups for primary school aged children, secondary school aged young people and their parents/carers. The sessions use creative activities to enable the children to: express their feelings of grief; share their memories and explore ways of coping. The aim is that children come away with skills and items that will be helpful for now and the future. At the end of each programme we provide a day trip for all of the families and hold a review session where they can reflect on their experience of our service, this helps us to develop what we do.
Stepping Stones – when a parent has a terminal illness.
We have always offered support and information to families where someone significant is terminally ill. We have recently developed this work, with help from Comic Relief, to provide a more comprehensive service to children who have a parent with a terminal illness. At the appropriate time, some of the children and young people attend regular group sessions at Plymouth College of Art who kindly support this project with time and creativity. The group sessions are an opportunity to escape the uncertainty and stressful situation at home whilst providing a space where children can express themselves creatively and be with others who truly understand what they are facing.
Individual or Family Sessions
Where a group is not appropriate because the family have specific or complex needs we offer one to one work or family therapy. These sessions are still based on the same principles and may still use some of the same creative activities.
We offer some individual sessions to those parents/carers who need the space to consider their own grieving in order to better support their children.
For those families who have used our service, in particular those who have been through a group programme, there are other events for them to join in with such as a Christmas party and an Easter Egg Hunt at The Donkey Sanctuary. They are a chance to relax and have fun together with the hope that the friendships that they have made at Jeremiah’s Journey will continue long after their time with us.