MSP highlights campaign to see bereavement books in schools and nurseries across Scotland

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17 November 2017

MSP David Stewart is promoting Children's Grief Awareness Week by highlighting a campaign to encourage education authorities to buy two bereavement books aimed at nursery and primary school aged children.

Mr Stewart became involved with the Scottish Cot Death Trust’s campaign in 2015, backing its drive to get the new books into the education system to help families cope with the grief surrounding death.

Now, nearly two years later and during Children's Grief Awareness Week (16-22 November), he is passing the baton back to the charity to continue the work.

 Lynsay Allan, Executive Director of the Scottish Cot Death Trust, has said, " We are so grateful to Mr Stewart for his tireless campaign to get these books into school and nurseries across the country.

“Our aim was always that all children should be supported as well as possible following a bereavement but also that grief and bereavement be talked about more in school as part of the health and wellbeing curriculum.

"These delightful books serve both equally well and compliment resources staff may already have to ensure they have everything at their disposal to better support and educate".

 David and his wife Linda lost their youngest son, eight-month-old Liam, to cot death in 1991 and were supported by the trust.

The MSP, who represents the Highlands and Islands, began his campaign by writing to the then Scottish Government Education Secretary, Angela Constance.

As a result, Education Scotland’s Senior Education Officer, Suzanne Hargreaves, offered to meet the charity to investigate further and a workshop was held with the Health and Wellbeing National Network demonstrating the educational books.

However, Ms Hargreaves said in June this year that “the decision as to whether to have the Scottish Cot Death Trust’s educational books in schools lies with the local authorities/schools themselves”.

So, in August Mr Stewart wrote to all 32 councils highlighting the books and the reason why he supports them. So far seven have replied and 11 acknowledged his plea.

“It’s been a long haul, however, I am grateful that I have received a number of positive responses from some councils and I have passed them on to the charity,” explained Mr Stewart.

“I know the trust want to take this further, so I am happy to take a step back but will help and support them when I can in the future.

“I hope in a small way that I’ve highlighted the good work of the trust.

"Losing a baby is one of the greatest traumas that parents, and their remaining children, can ever face.

"I’ve read both books and see them as excellent resources, sensitively written for children. The charity’s aim is to have these books widely available to all children, via schools and nurseries, so that any family affected by the sudden death of a baby or young child, or for children born into a family after a loss, are supported as well as they can be.”

The books, available to the public priced £4 each, would form part of a number of resources offered in schools so staff were better able to support children.

"Rory’s Star" and "Andrew’s Rainbow" are both given free of charges to families supported by the trust but are available to the public to buy.

Lynda Bathgate wrote "Rory’s Star" and Veronica Hansman “Andrew’s Rainbow" which used children’s words from focus group sessions.

Lynsay Allan added that these books are available to purchase direct from the charity by visiting the website  http://www.scottishcotdeathtrust.org/shop.php or by contacting the office direct on 0141 357 3946  or

contact@scottishcotdeathtrust.org

More on the awareness week http://www.childrensgriefawarenessweek.com/