Researching different ways of helping children through bereavement

Published: 21 Sep 2016

Author: Nicola Dady
Researching different ways of helping children through bereavement

In 2010, Nicola Dady was diagnosed with kidney and bladder cancer. Worried about the difficulties this presented to her two children, aged 9 and 13, Nicola sought out support groups in London that help children to cope with having a parent who is diagnosed with cancer. Finding very few, she founded Don’t Forget The Kids, a non-profit organisation that hosts a weekly youth support group. Don’t Forget The Kids encourages families to work together on meaningful art projects. The space is used to facilitate ‘guilt-free’ fun activities, and create lasting memories, whilst combating isolation.

Nicola has recently returned from five weeks travelling in the USA researching the provision of emotional support for children dealing with the death of a parent or caregiver. Her travels were enabled by a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship award.

Nicola, from Tottenham in North London, visited people and organisations dedicated to supporting children affected by bereavement. However, she learned that although there is support for this peer group, it isn't very accessible or consistent, mainly due to a lack of funding and resources.

Nicola took the opportunity to fly out her own two children to Miami to attend Camp Kesem, which provides free residential programs for children affected by a parent’s cancer. The five day trip included a range of activities, including sporting and water activities, performing arts, arts and crafts, music and games. Nicola observed that her children returned home happier, having opened up about their own trauma and made new friends whom they could relate to.

“Children facing the loss of a parent or caregiver are likely to suffer grief, trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression if their emotional needs are not being cared for. Peer support and creative arts provide a way of combatting isolation and helping children to express themselves. The work of the organisations I visited is invaluable and I am so grateful for the time I spent with each of them” –Nicola Dady

Having returned to the UK, Nicola aims to apply the learning she gained during her Fellowship in order to extend Don’t Forget the Kids’ services and continue creating exciting programs, workshops, and literature to support those in need. Two of the organisations Nicola visited during her Fellowship expressed an interest in starting their own version of Don’t Forget Kids. She is now working with them to achieve this.

Notes to Editors

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Pictured: Nicola Dady with her two children, courtesy of Tia Talula Photography