ellenor is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded a generous grant from BBC Children in Need. This longstanding 27 year partnership marks a significant milestone in their commitment to supporting bereaved children and children with life limiting conditions in the Kent and Bexley communities. The charity, widely recognised for its annual telethon hosted by high-profile celebrities, will contribute a total of £45,000, over three years, to fund ellenor’s crucial work with bereaved children.
Specifically, the funding will go towards two aspects of ellenor’s existing services for grieving children: play therapy, and GEMS (Grief Every Memory is Special) days.
“This is amazing news for us, to receive funding from BBC Children in Need,” says Jolanta Martis, play therapist at ellenor.
“The funding will allow us to continue to create a safe space for healing and growth. And enable us to keep providing neutral, supportive environments where bereaved children can learn to navigate complex emotions, connect with others facing similar circumstances, and find a path to renewed hope.”
ellenor is a hospice charity that cares for children and adults with life-limiting illnesses: both from their own homes the Kent and Bexley, and from its Northfleet-based inpatient and outpatient units. As part of its holistic model of care – which aims to treat the patient, rather than the disease; and considers not only their clinical needs, but their emotional, social, and psychological ones, too – ellenor also supports the families of its patients.
As part of this, ellenor offers bereavement support and counselling to older children and adults grappling with the recent loss of a loved one. For children too young to express their feelings in words, however, an alternative exists: play therapy.
“Play therapy serves as a bridge between the language of children and the vast arena of their emotions,” says Jola. “Through the power of play, bereaved children can communicate their fear and anxieties without the need for words; to discover that their emotions are valid, and that they’re not alone in their grief.”
Alongside play therapy, the BBC Children in Need grant will also go to funding ellenor’s GEMS days. Available to children aged 6 to 16 years, GEMS is a bereavement support group for young people who have lost a loved one: be they a parent, a sibling, or a grandparent.
GEMS days – which combine therapeutic activities alongside fun and games – provide an outlet for the child’s grief, while enabling them to meet others going through the same thing. They can make friends, talk about their feelings in a safe, secure space, and learn about coping mechanisms. All while sharing treasured memories of their lost loved ones, and – through creativity and collaboration – making new ones to savour.
“Our GEMS days offer a unique blend of support,” Jola explains. “Friendship; education; togetherness. The children are able to come together and form a community that understands the overwhelming breadth and depth of their loss”.