This grant helped St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich to work with primary and secondary schools to improve support for pupils following bereavement. By giving teachers the skills to respond to their pupils’ grief early on, the project aims to prevent long-term difficulties in emotional well-being.
Bereavement training for schools
In September 2019 the Emotional Wellbeing Team at St Elizabeth Hospice started bereavement training at several local primary and secondary schools.
These two age groups have very different needs, so the two programmes are teaching different strategies and theories
So far, they have provided training to five primary schools are in the process of training four secondary schools, with another ten schools on the waiting list.
The training has successfully ‘upskilled’ staff, helping them to be more proactive in supporting pupils who are experiencing grief. The training has also given teachers skills to share with their colleagues, enabling them improve and widen support throughout their entire school.
Attendees reported that they had much greater confidence in talking about death with young people and their families, a greater knowledge of the impact of grief and loss on young people, and that they felt empowered to make changes in their workplace.
Open bereavement group
During the training, each school has also been encouraged to refer students to attend an open bereavement group held monthly in the centre of Ipswich. Facilitated by the hospice’s specialist Children and Young People bereavement counsellor, the group provides a safe and welcoming space for young people to talk about their experiences.
The group has been well attended with a core group of young people who come regularly, sharing their stories and listening to each other’s advice. A few of the young people have even been meeting between sessions to talk further, building lasting friendships.
Creating a lasting impact
The impact of this project has the potential to be huge. The teachers and pastoral staff receiving the training are sharing their learning with other members of staff throughout the year; referring young people to the bereavement group encourages social networks of peers with similar life experiences; and it is bringing conversations about death further into the public arena.
This grant was awarded through our partnership with Hospice UK.