1. Richmond’s Hope, Baillie Gifford’s charity of the year 2019/2020, tell us about the support they offer to bereaved children.

  2. Grief for adults can be confusing, distressing and isolating. For children who have varying levels of understanding and emotional development, it can be even more complicated.  One in five children will experience the death of someone close to them by the age of 18, which unfortunately means that grief is an emotion that children are often faced with. That’s why the work of Richmond’s Hope, the first charity in Scotland specialising in children’s grief and Baillie Gifford’s charity of the year 2019/2020, is so important.

    Founded by Liz Henderson in 2003, Richmond’s Hope was born out of the lack of support for bereaved children living in the community of Niddrie, in the South East of Edinburgh. Since then, their work has expanded and the charity now has three centres in Edinburgh and Midlothian, and one in Glasgow. “We believe we can make a difference in the lives of children who have been bereaved by supporting them through their grief,” explains Liz, who continues to be heavily involved with the charity. “Each child’s grief is different, which is why sessions are not prescriptive and are tailored to every young person’s need.”  

    The charity provides a safe space and an expert team of bereavement workers who help children using therapeutic play on a one to one basis. “Children often struggle to speak about how they are feeling. However, by using play, for instance drawing and making things, not only are the activities therapeutic in themselves but they can also help children describe how they are feeling,” adds Liz. This allows the children to work through their grief by exploring these feelings, looking at coping strategies and by understanding the impact the bereavement has had on their lives.

    Liz explains that memory making is also an essential focus, “As adults, we know that looking back we can’t always remember certain times in life as much as we would like. To help children hold on to their memories of the person who has died, we offer them the chance to make memory jars, boxes and pillows.”

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    Our logo aims to convey the muddled mix of emotions felt during a time of bereavement and how with our help, you can channel your emotions into a rainbow.
  4. Aggressive behaviour is a common manifestation of children’s grief, which led to the introduction of “the volcano room” at Richmond’s Hope. “It’s a soft play area with punch bags, which aims to give children a safe outlet to release some of that anger,” says Liz, “It’s important that we help children understand how best to channel their emotions, and we encourage them, where willing, to share their learnings with family members, allowing communication channels to be opened up.”

    The charity operates an open referral system with the view to being able to help any child or young person who needs it. “On average we see around 50 children a week in Edinburgh. Each child tends to come once a week for up to 12 sessions,” Liz explains, “However, we often see children return in the future, as their feelings and emotions towards the bereavement continue to develop and change.”

    Learning more about the charity, it’s clear to see that they represent hope amongst sadness for hundreds of children, which Liz adds is the meaning behind their bright rainbow logo. “It aims to convey the muddled mix of emotions felt during a time of bereavement and how with our help, you can channel your emotions into a rainbow.” Since its establishment 16 years ago, Richmond’s Hope has encouraged children to thrive beyond the most difficult of times and looking towards the future, Liz and the team are optimistic that they can continue the fantastic work they do in the Edinburgh community and beyond.