Appeal to Welsh Government from bereavement charity 2 Wish Upon a Star
A petition's being handed over to the Assembly later urging the Welsh Government to provide essential bereavement support for families who suddenly lose a child.
More than 5,000 people have signed the petition organised by bereavement charity 2 Wish Upon a Star.
It was set up by Rhian Mannings after she and her husband Paul lost their baby son George. They left the hospital heartbroken and five days later, Paul took his own life
The petition, which has more than 5,000 signatures, is calling on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to provide essential support to families of children aged 25 and under who die suddenly.
Rhian, who set up the charity in 2012, said it’s paramount that no other family has to live through the nightmare she did when she lost George and then Paul:
"In February 2012 my son George died suddenly in an Emergency Unit in Wales. We walked out into the night with nothing, alone and frightened.
"Nobody came, nobody reached out to support us and it was left to devastated friends and family to support my husband Paul and I. Five days after we lost our son my surviving two young children and I faced more heartache when Paul took his own life. Once again nobody came."
Rhian added: “Families require support immediately after such loss. They need to have a point of contact if they have questions and a friendly ear to listen. You never get over the loss of your child and families need to know there is long term support in place for to help them through the grieving process.
"There is no planning or preparation prior to a sudden death and the effect of traumatic loss can have a huge impact on the mental health of parents, siblings and other family members. We believe this support is essential and will prevent families walking out into the night with no hope, no support and most importantly without their child."
2 Wish Upon a Star receives no public sector funding. The charity provides support including counselling, memory boxes and an immediate support pathway working with health boards and police forces in Wales.
The causes of death include Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, accidents, illness and young suicides.
More than 520 families have received support since 2015.
Rhian hopes today's petition will help prevent bereaved families being lost in the future:
"Staff have been known to 'forget' to give memory boxes, decided that the family of an 18-year-old does not require support as ‘he had stubble’ and that the offer of support at time of death is ‘not appropriate'.
"It is not for the health professional involved to decide if a family require support. We know by speaking to staff and families that our service is changing lives for everyone involved in the sudden death of a child or young adult and we want the Welsh Government to ensure all families get the offer of support when needed most."
Rhian and her colleagues from 2 Wish Upon a Star will be joined at the National Assembly by families who have accessed the charity’s support. One such family is the Roddas from Aberdare who lost their son Owen to an asthma attack last year.
Owen’s mother Christine said of the petition:
"After my son Owen died from an asthma attack in 2018, just knowing that 2 Wish Upon a Star were there to support us gave us so much comfort as there is nothing else out there in our area to help bereaved families.
"Their ongoing support has been a lifeline to me and my family, and we have found their support group on Facebook particularly helpful. The fact that you can talk to other parents in a safe, closed and monitored group has been invaluable. The whole team at 2 Wish have been amazing and it is good to know that they can support families as long as it is needed, but we just want to make sure that every family in Wales has the chance to receive the help we did."
The National Assembly for Wales Petition Committee will then examine the petition and will decide on next steps.
You can watch a video about 2 Wish Upon a Star here: