Local hospice to expand child bereavement services

St John’s Hospice child bereavement services.

St John’s Hospice child bereavement services. - Credit: ST JOHN'S HOSPICE

Local community hospice, St John’s Hospice, provide care to more than 4,500 patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families across seven North London boroughs every year.

They are the only specialist provider of child bereavement services in the borough of Westminster.

Their specialist services help children and young people from ages two to 25 to reduce the negative impact of bereavement, whilst helping to prevent young people from experiencing future problems with their education, homelessness, and related mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The hospice has seen an increase in referrals from schools, GP surgeries and community groups of children and young people who have not had access to help throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maria Colimao, Specialist Social Worker at St John’s Hospice in the recently opened children’s room.

Maria Colimao, Specialist Social Worker at St John’s Hospice in the recently opened children’s room. - Credit: ST JOHN'S HOSPICE

With this increase in need for their services and the complexity and urgency of cases, St John’s is planning to expand their child bereavement services within the next year.

The hospice reports that 90% of the children and young people supported through their services struggle with depression and/or anxiety, with COVID-19 related isolation exacerbating feelings of loneliness and many children resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

In 2021, they supported 80 children and young people (an increase of 25% against the previous year), with access to 1:1 counselling, peer-to-peer support and creative activities in the local community.

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The planned expansion will enable the hospice to increase the number of children and young people reached and introduce new services.

These include a specialist art therapy group, summer activities programme and a school outreach programme, helping to train educators to spot the signs of depression and anxiety connected to grief.

Specialist Social Worker Maria Colimao will take her support of St John's Hospice to new heights with a sponsored skydive.

Specialist Social Worker Maria Colimao will this summer take her support of St John's Hospice to new heights with a sponsored skydive. - Credit: ST JOHN'S HOSPICE

The hospice’s services are headed up by Specialist Social Worker Maria Colimao, who, this summer, will be taking her support of the hospice to new heights with a sponsored skydive.

Speaking of the services and her motivation, Maria said: “We support the whole family when there are often such drastic changes.

"Usually, the person that is ill had a job and household or caring responsibilities, and because of the illness they're not able to do that anymore.

"Often the family has to adapt to this new reality quickly. And it’s so important that, as social workers, we can address their practical needs, such as benefits, housing problems, and family support, providing practical care and comfort at a time when it is needed most.

"I am really proud of the level of care that we can provide to our patients and their families and by taking on this challenge I can support the hospice to reach even more patients, enabling them to also experience this care at a time when they need it most.”

St John’s Hospice has various challenge opportunities throughout the year, including skydives, marathons and cycling events.

Every penny raised from the sponsorship of these events will support St John’s and enable their dedicated team like Maria to reach more people and provide more care.

To find out more about these opportunities or the hospice’s local child bereavement services please visit their website stjohnshospice.org.uk.

Alternatively, get in touch with the St John’s Fundraising Team by emailing fundraising@hje.org or calling 020 7806 4011.