Grief aid cash fears on hold

Linda Jones outside the Snowdrop Centre on Central Drive with a picture of her son, Matthew.
Linda Jones outside the Snowdrop Centre on Central Drive with a picture of her son, Matthew.
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Bereaved parents today gave a cautious welcome to a second 11th hour reprieve for a counselling service dealing with child death.

Six months ago, The Gazette reported how bereavement nurse Michelle Boland, who offers counselling at the Snowdrop Centre, was told to wind up her clients as funding from the Blue Skies Hospitals Fund had drawn to an end.

But, with one month left, bosses at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust announced they would provide six months’ further funding for the centre, which has an office on Central Drive, Blackpool, while a review was carried out.

And today, the Trust has announced a further year of funding while the review continues.

Head of the Trust’s families division, Pauline Tschobotko, said: “It is important to have the right sort of bereavement services to respond to the demands of today and tomorrow.

“The initial review looked at what bereavement support was available within the Trust. To have something in isolation, that just involves the Trust without the rest of the wider community, would not be robust or sustainable.

“Having the community involved develops tolerance and understanding which can support families to move on to build their resilience and confidence.

“You cannot just get rid of grief, you need to manage it, and that needs support from a number of different areas.”

Len Curtis, owner of Donna’s Dreamhouse, who helped set up the Snowdrop Centre 12 years ago, said: “We are very pleased at this announcement, but things are very uncertain about whether this funding will carry on past the 12 months. We are pretty confident that this review will reveal the Snowdrop Centre and Michelle provide a very necessary service to grieving parents across the Fylde coast.”

Linda Jones, whose son Matthew took his own life five years ago when he was 17, said the future of the service was still uncertain.

Mrs Jones, 60 of Norbreck, added: “Despite this announcement, there hasn’t really been any change. The people who run the service don’t know what decision is going to be made.

“This is such a necessary service. Without it, people will end up under the care of their doctor or a mental health service. No-one can explain how it feels to lose a child, all we can do is seek support.”