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2:06pm Thursday 14th June 2012 in News
HUNDREDS of bereaved families have been supported by St Helena Hospices’ STARS programme since its 1993 launch, reports Andrea Collitt.
The programme offers support to children aged five through to young adulthood, and their families, following the death of a parent or loved one.
Until recently it has been funded by a legacy left to the hospice by a former social worker.
But that has now come to an end.
Today the Essex County Standard, on behalf of the hospice, asks for your help to ensure the STARS programme can take place next spring.
But for that to happen, we need to raise £9,500.
STARS stands for Supporting, Talking, Adjusting, Remembering Someone special.
The once a year programme involves a three-day residential retreat, followed by three follow up evenings and a final day when families come together. It provides grief support activities through art, music, counselling and play.
It culminates in a balloon release and candle ceremony to help children and families let go of painful memories enabling them to have some closure.
Each programme supports 30 to 40 children and young adults a year.
The next one will be a weekend trip to the Mersea Centre for Outdoor Learning, in East Mersea.
Cherie Smith, the hospice’s deputy director of community services, described the STARS programme as a “rewarding” experience.
She added: “What the children and families need is bereavement support which they get from the programme and one of the biggest things they get is it provides them with the opportunity to meet other families.
“Families just feel so different after someone has died – so isolated.
It provides them with the opportunity to meet others in a similar situation and helps to normalise their experience.”
Mrs Smith said many of the families remained friends after completing the programme and emphasised that it was not just there for those who had suffered a bereavement through the hospice, which tends to have been those with an illness like cancer.
It supports families bereaved by sudden deaths and suicides.
Our shopping list shows a detailed breakdown of the costs needed to fund the trip, ranging from art supplies to mini bus hire.
James Wills, editor of the County Standard, said: “We realise in the current economic climate raising £9,500 will be no mean feat.
“However, we have broken down the total into a shopping list so people will know exactly what their money is being spent on.
“We also hope it will encourage companies who provide such services and supplies to perhaps help out by donating their time or goods rather than handing over hard cash.
“Losing a parent is an awful experience, whatever your age, but to do so as a child is particularly devastating. The STARS programme has been shown to make a real difference.
“A little generosity now could help save a child from years of torment and we are sure, as ever, businesses, organisations and our readers will do their best to make a difference.”
HOW TO DONATE: For more information on the STARS programme,contact Cherie Smith on 01206 848163.
To donate goods or services contact County Standard reporter Andrea Collitt on 01206 508288.
Cheques and donations can be sent to the hospice at Fundraising office, C/o Myland Hall.
Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU, or dropped off at our offices in North Hill. Cheques made payable to St Helena Hospice and MUST clearly be marked STARS appeal or will be used to fund the charity’s general work. We will also be collecting at next weekend’s Food & Drink Festival in Castle Park.
In the unlikely event of the course being cancelled monies will be retained for future courses but goods and services will not be used.