April 6, 2021

How one bereavement support charity has helped people cope during lockdown

This is a hugely difficult time for us all. Charities have seen a significant drop in their income over the last 12 months due to cancelled events, and this really worries me.

A local charity that I have supported for many years now is SeeSaw. This organisation is a small, Oxfordshire-based charity providing grief support to local children, young people and their families/carers. I spoke to them recently about how they have coped during a time when death seems to be a part of everyone’s daily lives.

SeeSaw’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s changes

SeeSaw provide information, advice, resources, consultations, training, support for schools, and face-to-face support sessions for children and young people, usually within their own homes. Their service is unique in Oxfordshire and is free of charge to all families that they support.

During the pandemic, they have pivoted to entirely contact-free consultations. Jane Elliot, Head of Fundraising at SeeSaw explains:

“Because of social distancing we quickly adapted our service to supporting families by phone, email, text, and video call via Skype, Zoom and Facetime. Our social media platforms proved an effective way to share information and coping strategies with families online and the wider community. Our website acted as a support hub with downloadable resources. We put in place a duty system to ensure that all enquiries were responded to within 24-48 hours, so that families in need of help were not kept waiting”.

The importance of SeeSaw’s work

I am in total awe of the work SeeSaw does, particularly with young children. Any death is tragic, but the death of a parent who has young children must be truly devastating for that family. To have the support of SeeSaw must be invaluable for these families in coming to terms with their loss.

Indeed it was during the brief reprieve between lockdowns that they found how much this was needed:

“Once lockdown was lifted, and schools resumed, we saw an increase in demand for our services. For children and young people, facing the death of a parent or sibling is one of the most difficult things they will ever have to deal with. To face this loss during a global pandemic, when all that is reassuring and familiar seems to be at risk, is enormously destabilising for a child. We anticipate that there will continue to be a high demand for our services going forward as the long term effect of bereavement in lockdown is felt.”

How you can help

In a year of so much tragedy, and with the likely knock on effect to society from restrictions and closures, I fear there will be many thousands of families affected in years to come. From delays in diagnosis of cancer, to delayed treatment or a lack of critical care hospital resources, I worry their expertise will be under great strain.

It has been a privilege to work and offer financial support to SeeSaw over the years and I wanted to share more about how you can help – your support is needed now more than ever:

“COVID-19 seriously impacted on our ability to fundraise from planned events. Our income is around 40% down as a result, at a time when demand for our services is increasing. We hope that we will be able to recoup some of our losses as restrictions are eased and things return to normal. We have many exciting fundraising events and activities planned later in the year which can be found on our website at: www.seesaw.org.uk/events

I hope that those of you who read this will be able to offer some support to this vitally important charity.

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