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Bereaved children helped to come to terms with their loss through art and activity

Bereaved children brought a splash of colour and creativity to Saint Francis Hospice when they came together to enjoy a day of arts and crafts.
Pic B Gabriella Madeline and Zara (cropped)
The charity's Family Support Team organised the Fireworks and Feelings event in the Day Therapy Unit at the hospice in Havering-atte-Bower to give young people a chance to express themselves through activities such as making cards and bird boxes.

Ten young people aged between 4 and 15 who are coming to terms with losing someone important to them attended the art day. The children or their families are being supported by the hospice's Family Support Service and have experienced the death of a parent, grandparent or close family member, from a life-limiting illness. 

The children also enjoyed lunch and games before being given a goody bag to take home at the end of the day.

Paul Sullivan, the hospice Family Support Service Manager, said: "It was such an uplifting but emotional day and there were plenty of smiles when sharing special memories of their loved one. The youngsters created some great pieces of art dedicated to the memory of their loved ones. Quite often the children say more in pictures than they say out aloud and the art day gave the youngsters the opportunity share with other young people in a similar situation to them in a safe environment."

Pic A Gabrielle Browne
"Fireworks and Feelings is the name we have used for this event for many years. Originally it was a day for teenagers and the plan for part of the art day was to set off a rocket with a message on it for a loved one. The name was used in our bids for Children in Need funding and has stuck since although we now include younger children too," said Paul.

Among the youngsters who benefited from the day was 8 year old Mason Chapman (pictured with Esther Gwynne) from Rush Green who was remembering his grandmother.

Mason said: "My favourite activity was drawing your favourite time with the person you have loved and lost. I also liked when we designed our very own mug. I wrote 'cheers' on mine and a bowl that I named my 'happy bowl'. The adults that helped were really kind and helpful giving me ideas on how to make things. I also made a new friend who I hope I will see again at the next Saint Francis Hospice event."

The young people's art work will soon be on display for two weeks at Brentwood Library in New Road, Brentwood from the 8th December.

Pic A Gabrielle Browne
Up to 100 children are supported by Esther Gwynne the Senior Social Worker and her colleagues in the Family Support Services team. They meet children in their own homes or the hospice and through games, stories, crafts and talking get them to open up about how they are feeling so she can help them come to terms with their grief. Her role is made possible thanks to funding from Children in Need as well as donations from supporters and other organisations.

The art day was supported by funding and volunteers from the Havering branch of The National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.

For more information about the care Saint Francis Hospice provides or to support the charity please call 01708 753319 or click here.

Pic A Gabrielle Browne

 Above from left to right Gabriella Browne, Madeline Wallace from Hornchurch and Zara Pepper from Upminster enjoy their day, and the chance to talk

Pic A Gabrielle Browne

Gabriella Browne from Upminster with her decorated bird box

Thanks to volunteer Nevil Osborne for the pictures.