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Giving a foot up to bereaved youngsters

Children who have recently been bereaved of a close family member have been helped by the Family Support team at Saint Francis Hospice.
Pic B Instructors Jamie Kielit and Kim Gilmour demonstrate how to climb the wall
Two special "Foot up" days were held in Romford and attended by children from the boroughs of Brentwood, Barking & Dagenham and Havering. The days were held in partnership with the YMCA at Roneo Corner, Romford on Wednesday 12th and Friday 14th August.
Pic E Hayden reaches the top resized
On the first day 13 young children aged between 7 and 10 years old  (pictured) enjoyed a day of activities led by Esther Gwynne, a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the hospice and Stella Christou, Child and Family Therapist. All the children participating have had counselling with the Family Support team at Saint Francis Hospice as they cope with the grief following the death of a much loved close family member.

Paul Sullivan, the Family Support Service Manager at the hospice explained the idea behind the activity days: "We called the days 'Foot up' days because for many of these young people it was their first opportunity to realise that they are making progress since the death of their loved one.  The days were structured around group activities, team sporting activities and finally they were faced with the YMCA indoor climbing wall.

Pic E Hayden reaches the top resizedThe YMCA facilitators were on hand to encourage the young people, showing that they can overcome their fears and that they can climb their mountain of grief.  All it takes is just a single foot up. It may surprise many people to know that the hospice arranges days like these but I think they demonstrate clearly that the hospice lives by its slogan: Saint Francis Hospice: doing more than you think!"

Esther Gwynne said: " The days were a lot of fun for the kids and us and I think it got across our message to the kids that there are some things, like attempting the climbing wall, or dealing with bereavement, that you shouldn't do on your own."

Stella Christou added: "One of the nicest things about the days was that it allowed children to meet other children in the same situation they are in so they don't feel so weird and unusual."

8 year-old Abby, from Ingatestone, (pictured) who was one of the children taking part in the first day, said: "It wasn't scary. We had fun playing badminton and volleyball with a balloon but the climbing bit was the best part."

Pic E Hayden reaches the top resizedHayden from Marks Gate who is also 8 years old said: "It was scary right at the top of the climbing wall when I looked down but then I knew that the instructors were looking after me so it was ok!"

Find out more about our Family Support Service.

Pictured: Hayden reaches the top of the overhang on the wall.