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Grief and Young Children


While the past fifteen years have seen a growth of support for school-aged children who have suffered bereavement, less attention has been paid to those under five years.

Now a researcher at the University of Leicester School of Education is redressing the balance in a two-year research programme called "Grief and Young Children".

With a major grant of nearly £140,000 from the Parenting Fund, Rose Griffiths has been working with the Childhood Bereavement Network, Leeds Animation Workshop and Leicester’s Laura Centre to increase awareness and understanding about the ways pre-school children are affected by losing a brother, sister or parent.

A central part of the project is a DVD produced by the Leeds Animation Workshop, with a voice-over by the nationally-acclaimed actress Alison Steadman, which gives ten ’cameos’ of instances of bereavement suffered by young children.

Brief, simply-expressed and poignant, the ten stories are based on real experiences. They show how children too young to express themselves in words might demonstrate their feelings at losing someone close to them, and the range of emotions they may feel, from guilt, bewilderment and anger to sheer grief. The stories also suggest ways in which carers can support children.

It is planned to make the DVD available to parents, carers, teachers, social workers, health visitors, nursery nurses and anyone who may be in contact with bereaved young children and who may not fully understand what to expect.

The DVD will be distributed to every public library in England, and will also form part of a two-hour training package for professionals who work with children, developed by Rose Griffiths with the Laura Centre and people from Leicester Sure Starts (centres for children under 5 and their families). It is planned to be available in March 2006.

Rose Griffiths commented: "When we started drawing up the training course, we realised there was very little material available for families of children under five. We want to encourage people to feel that everyone whose life includes a bereaved child can help.

"We are still collecting material, and if people with recent experience of supporting bereaved children under five want to get in touch with us we would be glad to hear from them."

Alex Jelley | alfa
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