My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Bereavement support for families to be debated in the Senedd

Rhian Mannings MBE handing over the petition to the Senedd in November 2019.

Nearly two years after bereavement support charity 2Wish presented a petition to the Senedd urging Welsh Government to provide families who suddenly lose a child crucial grief support, the petition is finally being debated by the plenary committee on November 3rd.

The petition, which has more than 5,000 signatures, is calling on the National Assembly for Wales to urge the Welsh Government to provide immediate support to families of children aged 25 and under who die suddenly.

There is currently no official bereavement support for these families in Wales, it is all provided by 2wish. The charity works with every health board in Wales and is supported by every police force. There are now immediate support pathways in place in every Emergency Unit and Critical Care Unit. It also works with every coroner, mortuary, organ donation team and Wales Air Ambulance to make sure no family is missed.

All of this support is funded by donations from the public. 2wish receives no public sector funding, although it does receive National Lottery funding.

This support includes 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 960 families have received support since 2015 which can result in a number of individuals supported in each family.

2Wish was set up by Rhian Mannings in 2012 after she and her husband Paul experienced the heartache of losing their baby son George. They left the hospital heartbroken, confused and bewildered with no support. Five days later, Paul took his own life.

Rhian explained how important immediate support is for families: “When we lost George, we walked out of the hospital with nothing, alone and frightened. Nobody came, nobody reached out to support us, apart from family and friends who were grieving themselves.  Five days after we lost our son, my husband Paul took his own life. My two other children and I were once again left heartbroken – once again, nobody came. I am determined that this will never happen again to a family in Wales.”

Rhian explained: “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.

“I know from 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 2Wish are asking supporters to join them at the Senedd on the day the petition is to be debated at Plenary, November 3rd.

One family that will be there to support the petition is Nadine Marshall, whose son Conner was murdered in 2015 and had support from 2Wish: “From the initial contact call to the charity they have supported us as a family and extended family beyond our expectations.

“2Wish has given us the chance to live with grief in a positive and unique way. We have benefited from alternative therapy, counselling and friendship. Meeting other families who are sadly part of a grief-stricken community has been so helpful. Knowing we can reach out at any time is comforting and very much appreciated.

“This petition is needed to allow families support and advice at a time that is harrowing, frightening and life changing. Suddenly bereaved families are affected in so many ways for ever. The types of specialist support offered is very much needed and deserved.”