Penhaligon’s Friends is a charitable organisation that was formed in February 1995 to identify and address the needs of bereaved children in Cornwall.
The idea grew from a bereavement forum representing a wide number of organisations including CRUSE, CLIC, Compassionate Friends, SANDS, SIDS, Child and Family Services (Education and Health), Macmillan Service, Hospital Chaplaincy, Hospice South West and Social Services.
Specific service needed
The forum highlighted the lack of child centered bereavement services and looked at ways of addressing this gap in provision. Statutory organisations were involved at all stages and included the social services, the education authority, health trusts (including members of the primary care teams), health visitors, midwives and general practitioners.
- Various projects within the county also confirmed the need for a child-centered bereavement service. They included: –
- Bereaved Children, (thesis for the diploma counseling, Macmillan Service);
- Life threatening Illness Project, (pilot project funded by the Department of Health);
- Pre-bereavement Group, (pilot project supported by the Duchy Charity and Cornwall Health Care Trust and Child and Family Services in conjunction with the Macmillan Service)
Filling a gap
Other organisations were approached for information on different ways of filling the gap. They included the Grief Clinic in Plymouth and Winston’s Wish, which provides support for bereaved children in Gloucestershire. A forum member was given the amazing opportunity to meet Atle Dyregrov and Magne Raundalen at The Centre for Crisis Psychology in Bergen, Norway . After consideration it was decided to base the service on Winston’s Wish, which provides support for bereaved children in Gloucestershire.
At Penhaligon’s Friends we believe it is crucially important to support, not duplicate the work of other organisations dealing with children. This involves placing much emphasis on communication, co-ordination and co-operation.
We adopted Penhaligon Bear as a symbol of our wish to develop increased openness in home and school. We also want to help the wider community to find appropriate ways of responding to bereaved children’s needs.
At Penhaligon’s Friends we hope that bereaved children will not be seen as having problems. We want them to feel part of an organisation where others will really understand and share their experiences.
Where we are today
Over the years the organisation has grown and there are now seven paid staff and a dedicated team of volunteers. We have increased our partnership working and relationships with other agencies, thus broadening the opportunities for Cornish children to receive optimum support.