Sandy Bear

Off the radar: the children who lost a parent during Covid

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Bereavement Support Services in Pembrokeshire call for a better understanding of the challenges facing bereaved children during Children’s Grief Awareness Week (18 to 25 Nov)

Campaigners are calling for a renewed focus on the children who have lost their parent or carer during Covid-19, warning their plight has dwindled in the public consciousness as the pandemic desensitises us to loss and grief.

At least 10,000 children have been bereaved of a primary caregiver across the UK due to the pandemic according to research published in the Lancet[i] in July 2021. And over 50,000 children have had a parent, guardian or carer die from other causes over the last 20 months[ii].

As childhood bereavement support services across the country mark Children’s Grief Awareness Week (18-25 November), charities are asking the public to listen to bereaved children and young people and understand how important it is to them to receive support when they are grieving. Their words have been captured in a series of word clouds, with an overwhelming message of support, community and acceptance.

Anita Hicks, Clinical Lead and Co-Founder at Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity says. ‘It is vitally important to normalise grief in children and young people and to use appropriate words for them to clearly understand what has happened when a loved one has died. This enables them to tell the story from their own perspective and allows them to form happy memories which creates continuing bonds. Since the pandemic began, we have had up to 150 active referrals to support children and young people through their bereavements. During lockdown, we were able to offer remote sessions and have since been able to provide face-to-face assessments and peer support group for a range of ages, both children, young people and their parents/carers.’

‘The word cloud generated by the Childhood Bereavement Network highlights that there should not be a stigma around children developing an understanding about the death of their loved one and that this can be beneficial for a child or young person. The children and young people of Pembrokeshire get the chance to meet others like them at Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity and feel comfortable to speak openly within a secure environment.’

‘Since reopening our charity after the lockdown period, we have been able to run four children’s groups (6-11 years old), one Sandy Cubs group (0-5 years old) and one teenage group (12-18 years old) as well as one-to-one family support. Our staff and volunteers have worked extremely hard to ensure that everyone has received appropriate support. We are always looking for new volunteers to recruit in a number of different roles including admin support, working with children, young people and adults and fundraising events as what we do would not be possible without our volunteers.’

The charities have also asked bereaved children and young people what they would say to another bereaved child or young person who is not yet receiving specialist support. The sector is acutely aware that with the increase in bereavement, there are children out there who could benefit from being in a welcoming environment to support them around their grief. Again, children have endorsed the vital work offered by childhood bereavement practitioners.

Sandy Bear Takes Over Radio 2!

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As part of this year’s BBC Children in Need appeal,  Sandy Bear took over the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show this morning, with our children, volunteers and staff choosing the playlist for a whole hour!

Sandy Bear was previously awarded £53k by BBC Children in Need to increase staff resources within the charity. The money is being used to develop Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity to ensure that bereaved children are being supported.

Thank you to BBC Children in Need for being a major supporter of our charity and helping bereaved children, teenagers and their families!

Sandy Bear College Work Experience Collaboration

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In the last academic year, we were able to team with Pembrokeshire College, with their students, to take part in work experience for Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity.

Check out our Facebook page to see a video of the fantastic work the students carried out. The IT students worked extremely hard to put this video together.

You can also see the Pamper Packs and Story Sacks being made and the business database being put together.

We want to say a huge thank you to the students and staff at Pembrokeshire College for all of their hard work and we look forward to working with them again this year.

St Oswalds VA School raise £1900 for Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity

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On the 12th July, St Oswalds VA School ended the 2021 summer term in a colourful and extraordinary way. St Oswalds held their first ever Rainbow Run organised by the Friends of the school. More than £3800 was raised to be split between the school and Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity. It was a very much needed boost for the health and wellbeing of all the children that took part which will also remain as a lasting happy memory for them.

A crazy and colourful event saw pupils run laps of the school field whilst being showered with all the colours of the rainbow. Runners turned up in white t-shirts, colourful accessories and sunglasses to take part. It all kicked off with the part time children running at 11am in their school bubble.  The rest of the school followed in their class bubbles from 1.15pm.

Prizes for the highest fundraisers for individuals and families were donated by Co-op Kilgetty, Clerkenhill Adventure Farm and Frizbee Golf, Heatherton World of Activities, Tesco Pembroke Dock, Indie Burger, Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, Carew Castle, Andrew Rees’s Butchers, Tees R Us New Hedges and Coppet Hall Paddle Boarding.

Diane James, Chair of the Friends of the school, said, “To see the faces of the children made it all worthwhile.  Pupils had gathered sponsorship from their friends and family and all pulled together to raise in excess of £3800.  We are so grateful to everyone for the part they played on the day. From the generosity of our sponsors Station Garage Kilgetty, Snooty Fox Martletwy, Saundersfoot Rotary club and MJ Parry and Co Ltd of the event, as well as the many businesses who have donated prizes. We were overwhelmed with the amount raised and delighted to surpass our target. We would like to extend a huge thank you to staff, pupils and parents for their hard work during these most strange circumstances”.

Hannah Underwood, Charity Coordinator at Sandy Bear, says “We hold good relationships with the schools within Pembrokeshire and it is extremely rewarding when the children and families work together to raise such phenomenal amounts of money for our charity. I am glad the children of St Oswalds had a lot of fun holding this fundraising event and they should be extremely proud of themselves for how much they have raised. We greatly appreciate the support we receive from St Oswalds VA School.”

Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity Family Fun Day at Carew Castle

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Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity held their first public event, since Covid-19, on Sunday 29th August. The event ran at Carew Castle which was generously donated by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The day was described as a ‘success’ as the general public, and families of Sandy Bear, thoroughly enjoyed the day.

The family fun day aimed to raise the profile of the children’s bereavement charity as well as trying to raise vital funds for children’s resources. Children, families and young people were able to take part in various craft activities, in the marquee donated by Valero, whilst meeting the staff and volunteers of the charity.

Pembrokeshire’s emergency services and St John’s Ambulance Service attended the day to help educate the guests about the fantastic work they do within the county. There were also many joyful musical performances throughout the day with a choir performance from Artistic Licence Theatre Company, Tickle Tunes and Samba DOC and storytelling from the wonderful Owain Roach.

Hannah Underwood, Charity Coordinator at Sandy Bear says, ‘I am really pleased with how the event went. This was the first ever fundraising event I have organised and it was great to see the smiles on everyone’s faces. I would like to say a huge thank you to those who donated and who we worked with on the day. Mark Everson at Carew Castle supported me throughout the organisation and we also received sponsorship and support from the Port of Milford Haven and Dragon LNG, who are our Charity of the Year partnerships for 2021/2022. I am really looking forward to planning the next event.’

Mark Everson, from Carew Castle and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park says, ‘The Sandy Bear Family Fun Day at Carew went incredibly well. It was a privilege to welcome over 100 children and their families to the Castle. There were so many fun activities throughout the day that our visitors also enjoyed. We are so happy to support Sandy Bear, who are an inspirational charity, and we very much hope to work with them again next year.’

Photography: Gareth Davies

Dragon LNG Charity of the Year Fitness Fundraiser for Sandy Bear

The Social and Wellbeing Committee at Dragon LNG have launched a new exercise challenge to get the whole Dragon Team moving to raise money for Sandy Bear from 26th July until the 7th of October 2021.

The challenge is lasting for 80 days (11 weeks 3 days) and they are seeing how far they can get around the world – their target is 40,075 kms!

The challenge involves Dragon LNG staff and their families (including dogs) taking part in anything which keeps them active.

They have set up a Just Giving page for the fundraiser which can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dragonlng and they are bringing their dragons along with them to take pictures of their activities throughout the challenge. Their dragons have come from The Sheep Shop in Haverfordwest.

Hannah Underwood, Charity Coordinator at Sandy Bear, says ‘We are so pleased to have the support from Dragon LNG through their Charity of the Year partnership. I am really looking forward to hearing from the staff at Dragon LNG about how they are doing within their challenge and seeing the pictures of where they have been over the coming weeks. All of the staff at Dragon LNG have the support from us here at Sandy Bear. We wish them the best of luck.’

Alexis Fletcher, Dragon LNG’s Managing Director says ‘Sandy Bear was hugely popular in our annual selection for Charity of the Year.  It’s been inspiring to hear more about the impact that Karen and her team have in Pembrokeshire, so it’s no surprise that our challenge to get around the world in 80 days and raise money for Sandy Bear is gathering pace.’

The team at Dragon LNG have currently raised £270 of their £400 target.

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Mark Phillips takes on Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge to raise money for Sandy Bear

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Mark Phillips, a mental health support worker for Hafal, is taking on the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge on the 16th of April 2022 to raise money for Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity. Supporting him on the day will be his girlfriend and daughter.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge involves taking on the peaks of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, in the Pennine Range, in less than 12 hours. The route is around 24 miles long (38.6km) and includes an ascent of 1585m (5200ft).

Mark has previously taken on other physical challenges with the aim to raise money for charities including Pembrokeshire Guide Dogs and Diabetes UK.

Karen, Clinical Lead at Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity, says ‘We are really lucky to receive such support from our local community. We are really grateful of the support from Mark and wish him the best of luck during this challenge.’

Mark Phillips says, ‘I really enjoy challenging myself and like to keep fit by going walking. I was made aware of Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity from friends and thought why not take on the challenge and raise money for charity whilst I do it!’

Dragon LNG helps to raise the profile of local children’s bereavement charity

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John Jones from Dragon LNG with Sandy Bear staff Karen, Anneline and Hannah

The staff and business partners at Dragon LNG have chosen Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity as their 2021 charity of the year. 

Sandy Bear offers one to one sessions and group events for children of all ages to help them understand their feelings and to realise they are not alone. They also offer support to these families to help them through their grief.

Ceri Crichton, Charity Development Lead for Sandy bear said ‘We are all thrilled to be voted Charity of the Year partner by Dragon LNG and look forward to working with the team over the coming months. The nomination will strengthen our ability to support bereaved children and young people across Pembrokeshire and in doing so, help them through the most challenging situation; the death of a loved one.’

Any child or young person can be referred to Sandy Bear by completing a form found on their website www.sandybear.co.uk or by telephoning  01437 700272.

Lydia Uchronski, HR manager and chairperson for Dragon LNG’s Social and Wellbeing committee commented “We are very proud to be supporting Sandy Bear and the wonderful work that they do to support young people and families.  Dealing with the pain of bereavement is so hard at any stage of life, but for children to have to process such painful emotions is truly heartbreaking.  The support provided by Sandy Bear during these difficult times is both humbling and inspiring and we hope that our donations will help this essential service to continue to help those who need it in times of despair, to make their present a little easier and future a little brighter.’

Sandy Bear Family Fun Day at Carew Castle, 29th August 2021

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Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity are hosting a Family Fun Day Event at Carew Castle on the 29th August 2021. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park have kindly donated the use of the Castle, to the charity, for the day. The day will run between 10.00-16.00 on the August Bank Holiday Sunday.

Local companies and organisations have also put themselves forward to sponsor and support the day. Valero Energy are donating their marquee to the event. The Port of Milford Haven and Dragon LNG, who support Sandy Bear as their Charity of the Year, are also providing support through volunteering and sponsorship.

The purpose of the event is to raise the profile of Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity as well as to raise funds for the resources for the children, young people and families who are supported by Sandy Bear. Such resources help families to understand and cope with the grief they are experiencing as well as allowing children, young people and their families to remember the loved ones they have lost.

Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity will be inviting past and current clients to the day to help them continue to come together for remembrance and to also enjoy themselves too. The event is open to the public (entrance fee applies).

The charity have arranged for a number of guests, within Pembrokeshire, to attend the day to provide activities, performances and workshops. Covid-19 permitting, the county’s emergency services will be attending where they will share information about the positive work they do within the county as well as providing activities for the families to enjoy.

There will also be musical performances and workshops from Samba DOC and Tickle Tunes, craft activities, storytelling, a teddy bear hunt, a teddy bear picnic and a Sandy Bear walk around the Hay Meadow at Carew Castle. All information regarding the event is being posted onto the charity’s social media platforms in the weeks leading up to the event (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

Sandy Bear are holding a summer raffle in the lead up to the event, which can be entered following a link via their social media platforms. There are six different prizes to be won which have been donated by local businesses within the county. Prizes include a Two Night Bell Tent Stay from Nights Under Canvas, an 8”x10” Pet or Wildlife Portrait from Dawn Beer Art and an Alpaca Trekking Experience for Two from Pembrokeshire Alpaca Trekking. All proceeds will also go towards children’s resources.

Hannah Underwood, Charity Coordinator at Sandy Bear says ‘This is the first event I have organised since joining the charity in May 2021 and the first event we have been able to hold since the pandemic hit. It has been a really exciting challenge for myself within my new role. Everyone we are currently working with has been so supportive of this event and I am really excited to see how the day pans out!’

Daisy Hughes, Visitor Services Manager at Carew Castle says ‘We are so pleased to be working with Sandy Bear on the Family Fun Day in August. Activities are planned in and around the Castle throughout the day and all are welcome to come along and join in the fun! Sandy Bear are such an amazing charity and the support they give to children and young people is extraordinary. We are honoured to be hosting the event and are really looking forward to the day’

For more information about Carew Castle visit www.pembrokeshirecoast.wales/carew-castle/

Postcode Community Trust award to fund Sandy Bear Charity premises

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Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity has been awarded £19,601 by the Postcode Community Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by player of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The award  will contribute to the running costs of Sandy Bear House for a year, ensuring the charity has a secure base where they can continue to support children and young people (and their wider families) who are suffering following the death of a loved one.

Sandy Bear House is a purpose designed welcoming place where children, young people and families can visit, in an environment created solely with them in mind.

Ceri Crichton, Charity Development Lead at Sandy Bear says, “Thank you so much to the supporters of the People’s Postcode Lottery for funding the running of Sandy Bear House …this will mean that we can provide a safe and dedicated space designed specifically for bereaved children and young people throughout the year and in doing so, help them develop the coping strategies and resilience they will need for their lifelong bereavement journey”.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult experience for anyone but especially so for young people. That is why I am glad to see Sandy Bear Children’s Bereavement Charity receive a grant which will help it continue its vital work.

“I am thrilled that, through Postcode Community Trust, grassroots community groups and charities in Wales like Sandy Bear are able to receive support from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery and continue to deliver important services in the region.”

For more information on the Postcode Community Trust visit www.postcodecommunitytrust.org.uk