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Siblings need support too

When a family includes a child who is living with a life-limiting or life-threatening illness, the impact is felt by everyone, including the other children in the family.  Acorns Children’s Hospice has long recognised this with the provision of their Sibling Support Service.

Lucie White has worked at Acorns for nearly three years, her job doesn’t really have a ‘typical day’, but we’ve asked Lucie to tell us some of the ways she is supporting children and young people year-round at the Worcester, Three Counties hospice.

“The majority of my direct work with siblings is done through groups.  Following a referral, I’ll start to build up a picture of the family as a whole and speak to the parents to introduce myself and arrange a visit.  This gives us the opportunity to talk openly about how they view their child’s needs and understand how the sibling service may be able to support them.”

When there is a life limited child or life-threatened in the family or a brother or sister dies, siblings can face many changes in their day-to-day life as well as intense and confusing emotions.  Lucie will speak to the child and establish a relationship with them, which is all part of understanding the best way to help, as some may be best supported on a one-to-one basis, others in groups, or a mixture of both.

“While group work can be invaluable in resolving isolation, some siblings need more personalised support to process their grief.  Over the past few months, I’ve been able to provide individual support in the home or at school.  In both individual and group work, I use a range of creative methods to help children and young people express themselves in a safe environment.  This can include anything from exploring thoughts and feelings through music, art or team games, to making personalised worry dolls as a practical way to deal with fears.”

At any one time, Acorns will be supporting just under 300 siblings.  All of these young people have a dedicated support worker and the opportunity to be involved in workshops, outings and projects that allow them to share their views and feelings whilst having fun.   One young person who has been supported by Acorns said, “When I first joined the group I was really shy, but as soon as I settled in, I became more confident and able to speak out. It is all about talking about our siblings and I enjoy that because I know that I’m not the only one.” 

Your regular donations are helping to make Lucie’s work and this invaluable service possible - £16 will pay for support for a sibling for one month – thank you.

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