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Jayne is a Children and Young Person Supporter who gives her time, skills and experience to bring specialist tailored advice and support depending on the age and stage of grief the child is at.
June 01, 2023
More than 230 compassionate, committed and experienced volunteers form the beating heart of Cruse Scotland and we want to celebrate and share the difference they make to bereaved children, young people and adults across the country.
This Volunteers' Week we're excited to shine a light on the various roles of our incredible volunteers and the difference they make each and every day - from their point of view.
As children, our close family and friends are the people who shape our world, helping us to set out on our journey in life. Parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and family friends may all fill the roles of protectors, guides, play mates and best buddies, providing us with love, care and security. For children, there are likely to be many people in their worlds whom they have known for the whole of their lives and their continued presence is a 'given', there is the sense that they will always be there.
Of course, for many children this is sadly not the reality and the death of one of these loved people can rock the child's world to its very core. Depending upon the age of the child when they experience the bereavement, they may be very confused about what has happened, wondering if the person will return and trying to make sense of how life can continue without them. They may experience a whole spectrum of emotions - sadness, despair, anger, fear or sorrow - which can all feel overwhelming and confusing.
Often the bereavement has impacted the whole family, meaning that the adults around the child are also trying to deal with their own grief and loss. Despite the very best of intentions, this can sometimes mean that the adults are not available to give the child the emotional support they need; this is where Cruse Scotland's Children and Young Person's Bereavement Support comes in.
Children may be referred, usually by a family member or sometimes by a family friend or teacher and can be of any age, from pre-school age to 18. This huge age range means that the work of a Child and Young Person (CYP) supporter is very diverse and completely oriented around the individual needs of each child. Children often need to work through their feelings not only by talking but through play and arts and crafts -drawing, painting or modelling. There is such rich support and healing possible through sharing creative activities, for instance, making a memory box in which to keep special mementos, making a Father's or Mother's Day card for a deceased parent or creating a story book to tell the life of the person who has died. A CYP bereavement support session can often involve lots of paint, glue, sequins and mess!
My own pathway to Cruse Scotland began in my previous career as a Steiner Early Years teacher, working with 3 to 7 year olds. Over the years, I taught a number of children who had experienced bereavement and I saw how deeply this touched their lives and the ways in which they would bring their feelings into their play and other activities, with an innate sense of what was needed to bring about change and healing. When I retrained as a Person-centred counsellor, I was keen to work with children and young people, alongside my work with adults and volunteering with Cruse was a natural step.
I have had the privilege to work as a CYP supporter for around 6 months now, following completing a very in-depth 6 month training to prepare me for this role. I am often in awe of the children and young people I work with and their ability to address the issues the bereavement has brought for them as, one step at a time, they navigate the world without their loved person. I also see the positive impact the support they receive can have on the whole family, it can be a huge relief to a parent to know that their child has someone whose role in their life is just to be there for them, to listen and support them.
When children are supported with their grief, it no longer overshadows all the happy memories they have of the person who has died. They can continue into their lives, aware that the loss they have experienced has changed the shape of their lives forever, yet also knowing that the deceased person is never truly 'lost' as they continue to live on through the child, often remaining as a very loved and important presence in their lives.
Thank you to Jayne, and of course to every single Cruse Scotland volunteer for your kindness, dedication and support.
It costs us upwards of £500 to provide the training to welcome a Children & Young Person supporter who will go on to offer invaluable support and hope to these bereaved children, just like Jayne does. No matter the amount, if you are able to make a donation to Cruse Scotland, you will ensure young people need not struggle alone in their grief.
If you would like to be kept informed of all the latest volunteer recruitment opportunities, sign up to our monthly e-newsletter to keep in touch.