Photo credit: Sammy Adams


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A group of bereaved young people hand delivered a petition to No 10 Downing Street on 11 July 2023. The petition calls for official data on the number of children bereaved in the UK to be recorded.

Data are currently collected on adults who are bereaved of their spouse or child, but no data are collected on the number of children who face the devastation of the death of their parent or someone else important in their lives. This means that no-one knows exactly how many children (aged 18 or under) are bereaved each year.

The bereaved young people congregated outside the Houses of Parliament with placards saying ‘Grief doesn’t take a recess’, appealing to the government not to forget grieving children and young people for whom the summer break can be a particularly isolating time away from the routine of school and university, as parliament heads towards recess. They then walked onto Downing Street to hand deliver a letter at the door of No.10. The letter, highlighting the need for data collection, was signed by more than thirty organisations in the bereavement sector.

The petition is being supported by Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat for Edinburgh West, who invited the young people to attend a debate in the House of Commons before having a private meeting with her in Westminster to discuss the petition. Christine talked openly about the impact of her personal bereavements and invited the young representatives from Child Bereavement UK and Winston’s Wish to share their views on how bereaved young people can be better supported, for instance by schools and GPs, that she would raise with the government.

Rebecca, 24, was five years old when her mother died. Rebecca told Christine Jardine:

"My Mum died when I was five and I first started going to see Child Bereavement UK when I was 12 – a sizeable chunk of time without having a way of coping or dealing with it. As a young child you understand that things have changed but you don’t understand why no-one’s talking or being honest about it and it pushes your feelings underground. It’s through Child Bereavement UK that I learned that this is not a unique experience and not a shameful one. We just so condemn grief to the private, yet it’s such a public issue, it affects us all, our communities, our social lives and our family lives and we can’t continue to bury it."

Christine Jardine talked about the need for systemic change, and said to the young people:

"You’ve all got very different experiences but you’re all saying the same thing, that what we need to do is find a way to make sure there’s support out there that you don’t have to go looking for, it should come and find you."

The petition to record the number of children in the household when a death is registered could help thousands of ‘forgotten’ bereaved children each year. This administrative change would ensure that policymakers are aware of the full scale of childhood bereavement in the UK and that services are developed and equipped to reach out with appropriate and timely support at an extremely challenging time in bereaved children’s lives.

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For interviews with the young people, photos and footage please email: [email protected] 

To find out more about the work of Child Bereavement UK: