In 2015, Child Bereavement UK concluded a three year project (funded by the Department of Health) where we endeavoured to improve bereavement support in six areas across England that featured highly on the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

In each area, we established a Bereavement Advisory Group bringing together representation from Health, Education, Social Care, Voluntary Organisations and Bereaved Families. We also held study days and training opportunities in each area, and in some cases collaborated with other services to reach more bereaved children and families. A bereavement pathway – with reference to local and national services – was created for each area, along with information on the range of support needs that children and families may experience (with the acceptance that many bereaved individuals require only a modicum of support if they have an understanding family, school, workplace or social circle).

During the 2012 – 2015 project, we made contact with a range of professionals and practitioners across Middlesbrough. We held a Bereavement Awareness study day at the Chinese Community Centre in the heart of the city. We also forged links with Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency as well as the manager of the local CDOP (Child Death Overview Panel) – who arranged several training sessions for local children’s practitioners from across health, education and social care. We were really pleased to offer those sessions as other inroads into the infrastructure of Middlesbrough were proving frustratingly difficult.

The people of Middlesbrough were warm and welcoming but the city was reeling from the wounds of recession and industry closure. Cutbacks meant even local authority posts were at risk and personnel changes continued throughout our project – therefore we were not able to pull together a stable Advisory Group.

Fortunately, Child Bereavement UK has recently received new funding to support our work in four more areas of deprivation so we will return to Middlesbrough for three years and endeavour to leave a solid legacy of bereavement support for the community.