Sandy Bear

Sandy Bear

Why I Volunteer – Diane’s Story

Diane became a volunteer after her retirement from working as a nurse within the NHS with acutely ill children in the hospital and community. Diane believed that a volunteering role with Sandy Bear was something she could do that was worthwhile following her retirement.

Diane went through training, provided by Anita and Karen, the Clinical Leads of Sandy Bear, in January 2019 and discusses openly why she volunteers.

“I was aware that the correct care of children and young people allows for a more rounded adulthood. Thus, I knew that proper bereavement care can help to prevent mental health issues later in life. This was one of the reasons why I wanted to volunteer.”

Diane shared how rewarding it is to be a part of the bereavement support groups with the children aged 11 years and younger. “To see these young people, who are obviously grieving, share their stories with me is very humbling. I see them at their first session where they are worried, frightened and tearful and I help them to ‘cope with life’ and have fun again. We undertake lots of activities within the group sessions which have beneficial effects on the children and young people.”

As well as volunteering within the bereavement support groups, Diane also helps at our therapeutic events with the children, young people and their families.

“Prior to being part of the Sandy Bear family, I had minimal contact with close, personal grief. Through contact and education with the young people about the grieving process, my personal life has been enhanced. My volunteering role has enabled me to view life and death in a different way which has had a positive effect on my day-to-day living.”

London Welsh Male Voice Choir Concert

Third time lucky for Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity hosting the London Welsh Male Voice Choir.

Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity hosted the London Welsh Male Voice Choir at St Davids Cathedral for a fundraising event on Saturday 7th May. The event drew in over 400 people from both inside, and outside of Pembrokeshire and was described as a ‘wonderful achievement’ for the charity.

The planning of the event previously commenced in 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic hit, not long after Sandy Bear gained its Independent Charity status, and was cancelled twice due to restrictions. The aim of the event was to increase awareness of the charity, as well as to raise funds to support children and young people who have faced the devastating death of someone special in their lives. Indeed, the concert was able to raise a phenomenal amount of £8265.91 from the ticket sales, raffle ticket sales and bucket collections.

In a packed St David’s Cathedral, the London Welsh Male Voice Choir enchanted their audience with the rich splendour of their voices, beautifully at home in this iconic setting. Two talented young musicians, Rhys and Eliza, from Haverfordwest High delighted the audience during a soloist section. Eliza (who has been playing the harp since 7 years old), performed Concerto for Harp in B-flat major by Handel. Rhys, soon to join the Welsh College of Music and Drama, performed Life’s Pageant by Terry Camsey. Both were followed by rapturous applause.

Hannah Underwood, Charity Coordinator at Sandy Bear says, “I am thrilled with how this event went and to have been able to make it a reality, finally, after two years of planning. To see people enjoying themselves, made it all worthwhile. I would like to say a huge thank you to the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, St Davids Cathedral and to those who sponsored and donated to us – especially Valero who were our main sponsors for the night. I hope to work with the choir on a similar event again one day in the future.”

Les Leslie, Marketing Chairman of the London Welsh Male Voice Choir says, “The Choir was greatly honoured to be invited to sing at St. Davids Cathedral in aid of Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity.  A wonderful opportunity to work with the dedicated team at Sandy Bear and with the hugely talented soloists Rhys and Eliza.  We look forward to returning in the not too distant future.”

Dawn Thomas appointed as Assistant Bereavement Practitioner at Sandy Bear

Dawn Thomas

Dawn Thomas has been welcomed to the Sandy Bear team as a new Assistant Bereavement Practitioner. Dawn joins at an important time as the charity continues to grow with the increased demand for the support for bereaved children, young people and their families. Dawn will work directly with the families within her new role.

Previously, Dawn has worked within the Hywel Dda University Health Board for 24-years with her most recent role being a Palliative Care Play Specialist for the last five years. Her experience has allowed her to work with children and young people for the majority of her career where she has developed the ability to gain the trust and respect, and build relationships quickly, with the families that she supports.

This role, Assistant Bereavement Practitioner, has been funded by BBC Children in Need Main Grant of £65,000, over a period of three years. The role is also further funded by Pembrokeshire County Council who have provided 50% match funding for the role.

Dawn says: “Having volunteered with Sandy Bear many years ago I am delighted to now be a part of this fabulous charity supporting bereaved children and young people in Pembrokeshire. I am looking forward to learning new skills and to also bring my knowledge to help children and young people improve their own emotional health and resilience.”

Anita Hicks and Karen Codd, Co-Founders and Clinical Leads at Sandy Bear says: “We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Dawn into the Sandy Bear team. We are sure that her skills and knowledge will be greatly valued by both the families and staff. We would also like to thank BBC Children in Need and Pembrokeshire County Council for continuing to fund this post to allow us to support more children, young people and their families after a loved one has died.”

James Bird, Impact Manager at BBC Children in Need said: “We’re thrilled to continue funding Sandy Bear – the project provides a space in the local community where children and young people can have honest and open discussions, in a safe space where they can feel at ease and supported. We can’t wait to see how BBC Children in Need funding will continue to make a difference to young lives in the area and support their overall wellbeing.”

Janine Lewis appointed new Assistant Bereavement Practitioner at Sandy Bear

Janine

Janine Lewis has recently joined the team at Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity as a new Assistant Bereavement Practitioner. Janine has joined at vital time to help with the increased demand and expansion of the charity. Janine will be working directly with children, young people and their families who are suffering the bereavement of a loved one, particularly those aged 0-5 years.

Prior to her new role, Janine was a Community Nursery Nurse within the Hywel Dda Health Board. Janine supported children and families with any issues which they had – particularly around developmental issues, emotional health and wellbeing, behaviour and parenting. She also has lots of experience of working with children with additional learning needs as well as working with bereaved children, young people and families. This experience helped her within her previous volunteering and trustee role at Sandy Bear which began in 2006. 

The role of Assistant Bereavement Practitioner has been newly created following a successful funding application to The National Lottery Community Fund upon completion of the Sandy Cubs Pilot in 2021. Sandy Bear have received £100,000 to use over three years, for staff resources, to be able to deliver the new service for children 5 years and under and to continue the expansion of the current support for children ages 6-11 years old.

Janine says “I am extremely happy to have joined Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity. I have worked with children, young people and families for the majority of my career. I am really excited to be able to continue to support children and young people through their bereavement journeys after doing it for a very long time as part of my volunteer role.”

Anita and Karen, Clinical Leads, say “We are thrilled to have appointed Janine within this position. She has supported us for several years through helping us set up as a charity and to pilot the Sandy Cubs Support Group. She will be a valued member to our team. We would also like to thank The National Lottery Community Fund, and the players of The National Lottery, who have funded this post so that we can support the increasing demand for children’s bereavement support in Pembrokeshire.”

Robert Roffe, Head of the Mid and West Wales region at The National Lottery Community Fund, says “We are proud to support Sandy Bear to expand its service and help more children, young people and their families in Pembrokeshire. National Lottery players raise over £30 million for good causes each week across the UK. Projects like this show how much of a difference that money makes to support people and communities to thrive.”

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Why I volunteer – Lee’s story

Lee

Lee became a volunteer for Sandy Bear following a recruitment drive when the charity moved to its new home in Milford Haven and completed her initial training in 2020 before the pandemic struck. Lee’s new volunteer venture was put on hold until summer 2021.

Lee, an experienced, retired secondary school teacher, talks openly about why she became a volunteer at Sandy Bear.

“My first connection with Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity came when one of my daughters was previously supported by the service following the death of my niece. The invaluable support left a lasting impression on me which was then reinforced through my career in education. I came across many children who needed the support from the charity who had suffered a bereavement and I was one of the people who had to refer pupils.”

Lee suffered an illness at the end of her career and after a while, she wanted to be able to help the charity which had helped both her and her daughter.

“During my training, I was impressed by the emphasis the was placed on all volunteers taking part in the activities that the children and families undertake during the group sessions. We have to speak openly about our own bereavement experiences which for me still, is still an important part of my grief process as it allows me to talk about how I am feeling.”

Lee has been able to develop within her volunteer role and has received training to work within the parents/carers support groups as well as being able to observe one-to-one appointments, contacting families by phone, analysing evaluation data as well as keeping the garden at Sandy Bear House beautiful and tidy for the children to use in the warmer months.

“I am privileged to see first-hand the impact that Sandy Bear has in helping children and their families to cope with their grief. Whilst I’ll continue to offer my support where I can, I receive a great deal in return. Anita and Karen, the co-founders, are such an inspiration and becoming a member of the Sandy Bear family has had a huge positive impact on my own mental wellbeing and I feel truly humbled to work with the children and families.”

Sandy Bear named as Vincent Davies’ Charity of the Year

Staff at Vincent Davies have voted Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity their official Charity of the Year Partnership for 2022. The employees of Vincent Davies hold a vote each year for a local charity to receive financial support.

Over the last two years, Vincent Davies were able to raise £10,000 for their previous partnership, Alzheimer’s Society UK. These funds came from a range of activities including bake sales, collection boxes and their singing penguins.

Ceri Crichton, Charity Development Lead at Sandy Bear, is excited for this partnership, saying “We are very thankful to the Vincent Davies team for voting us their charity partner. Our partnership will help more vulnerable bereaved toddlers, children, and teenagers, access much needed professional support to help them towards a more positive future, following the death of an important person in their lives. Children are sometimes the ‘forgotten mourners’, and we have witnessed first-hand the harmful effects of unchecked bereavement, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, on children, young people and families in our county. That is why we are particularly grateful to our partners, like Vincent Davies, who enable us to continue our support for children and teenagers”

Sarah John, Joint Managing Director at Vincent Davies says, “We are delighted to be supporting such a valuable and local charity here in Pembrokeshire.  Our aim is to work closely with Sandy Bear to raise as much money as possible to help support bereaved children in our community.  We’re looking forward to lots of exciting fundraising events that will involve the team at Vincent Davies and our customers, who are always keen to support of charity of the year.”

The support from the colleagues at Vincent Davies, and the general public, will change the lives of many families who are suffering a significant bereavement and will help vulnerable children and teenagers in Pembrokeshire to receive much needed support through their grief journey

London Welsh Male Voice Choir charity concert for Sandy Bear rescheduled!

Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity are pleased to announce that the London Welsh Male Voice Choir concert is due to go ahead on Saturday 7th May 2022 at 7pm.

The aim of the concert is to fundraise for the charity and to continue to raise its profile whilst it continues to grow. The concert will consist of two halves where both the choir and young musical talent of Pembrokeshire with perform.

Tickets are now on sale again here: www.sandybear.co.uk/store

For any enquiries about the concert or if you know if a young musician, contact hannah@sandybear.co.uk.

National Lottery Community Fund award to Sandy Bear

Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity received a grant of £100,000 over three years to establish a new bereavement support service for children under six years old, and to expand the existing Sandy Bear service for six to eleven year-olds in Pembrokeshire. It will increase volunteer numbers and deliver professional training to provide greater capacity to meet an increasing demand for services. 

Ceri Crichton is the Charity Development Lead at Sandy Bear and said, “The National Lottery Community Fund award of £100,000 has secured our new Sandy Cubs service for the next 3 years, supporting babies, toddlers, young children and their families when faced with one of life’s most devastating losses – the death of a significant loved one.  

“This means that through the award, Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity can offer support to bereaved children, young people and their families throughout  their entire childhood and teenage years, if they need us.  

“We want to express our thanks and gratitude to the National Lottery players who are making a huge difference in our children’s lives that we serve. We are dedicated to helping children and teenagers through their grief journey and this is made possible because of you.”

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Lamphey WI ‘Yarn Bombs’ village to raise funds for Sandy Bear

Lamphey WI

Ever had a cuddle with a Snowman?!

The ladies of Lamphey & District WI have been busy over the last few months, constructing a surprise, snowman display for the inhabitants of Lamphey village to enjoy over the 2 weeks of Christmas.   The display has been made using a number of different mediums including knitting, crochet and other crafts and comprises of two life size snowmen, their dog , teddy bear and decorations.  The figures are sat on a commemorative bench to Robert Phillips, whose wife was delighted to hear that the WI is helping to lift village spirits this Christmas.  Residents are being encouraged to have a gentle cuddle and a selfie with Mr & Mrs Snowman and family and Mrs Phillips said that her husband would have been one of the first to have had a cuddle!

Over 15 members of the WI have been involved and, as well as raising a smile in the village, the display has been a valuable shared experience to  re unite the WI members, and get to know the significant number of new members that have joined, post lockdown.   All the wool has been donated by the community and an unravelling party is planned in the new year to reuse it, where possible, for other WI projects, including blankets, premature baby hats and in passing on knitting skills by teaching the next “Tom Daley” how to knit in the local school.

The WI also hopes to raise valuable funds for the Sandy Bear Bereavement Charity for those unable to enjoy a cuddle with someone they love, this Christmas.  Much appreciated support has been secured from Lamphey School and the Lamphey Hall hotel who will be hosting collection buckets for those wishing to donate and a QR code at the display also links to the charity’s JustGiving page.

Lamphey & District WI President, Pat Parkhurst, said “The WI is a core part of village life and we hope to be able to help raise a few smiles this Christmas as well as generate some funds for such a worthwhile charity.  We’ve had great fun working on this display over the last few months and it has been a particularly good activity to engage with the many new members that we have welcomed recently.”

Lamphey & District Women’s Institute comprises of over 40 members and meets monthly (except August) on the first Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm at Lamphey Village Hall.  Activities vary widely from monthly talks/presentations, craft, theatre trips, book clubs and much more and centre on fun!   New members are always welcome.

Contact information: Gill Orchard, 07773 916372, gill.orchard100@gmail.com