Mobile zoo brings smiles to families at local Hospice

Charity / Sun 16th Jun 2019 at 09:06am

FACES lit up at St Clare Hospice in Hastingwood on Saturday 8th June after Chelmsford-based Animal Workshops’ Mobile Zoo made a special visit to a group of families who had each experienced the loss of someone close to them.

“We were delighted to host our first ever ‘family day’ here at St Clare last Saturday,” says Jo Feld, St Clare’s Children, Young People & Family Therapist. “We invited several families known to us here at St Clare, who had recently experienced a bereavement, for a fun and light-hearted day of meeting some furry friends and creepy crawlies – courtesy of Animal Workshops’ Mobile Zoo!”

From 2pm – 5pm, six local families, including children and young people of all ages, gathered in St Clare’s Dining Room and gardens to connect with others who had experienced loss and meet an exciting collection of exotic creatures. At the beginning of the session, participants also had the opportunity to ‘pot a plant’ together, to take home as a memento of the day.

“This is the first event of a series of Family Days that we’re hosting here at St Clare,” explains Jo, “with the aim of bringing local families together, offering a space to meet and connect with others who may share similar experiences.

“After a bereavement, it’s very common for people to experience social isolation, or not engage in the activities they took part in before as a family. However, meeting and socialising with like-minded others can be one of the most beneficial forms of support during grieving. So, we wanted to ensure people had access to a place where that could happen – where they could engage in enjoyable activities, without the pressure of having to plan a family outing, which is why we hosted it right here at the Hospice!”

The Children, Young People and Family Bereavement Service at St Clare Hospice is funded by BBC’s Children in Need, and since its launch in 2017 has reached more than 50 local families in need of support throughout West Essex and East Herts.

“The project has touched the lives of hundreds of people within West Essex and East Herts,” Jo reflects, “and we are continuously looking to develop the service so that we can reach more people. This year, we have begun visiting local schools to offer expert advice and guidance to education professionals about how to support pupils experiencing bereavement, as well as hosting child-friendly, interactive workshops about death, dying and loss within primary schools.”

Jo adds, “We’re excited about the future of the service at St Clare Hospice, and we’re looking forward to holding future events for local families to come along to!”

If you and your family have been affected by the death of a loved one or someone close, and feel that you could benefit from support, please drop in to one of our five bereavement cafés: stclarehospice.org.uk/bereavement-cafe

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