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Meet our team – chapter three

Hi everyone, I’m Carrie and I work as a Forensic Psychologist in Highland. I mainly work with social workers and care workers in supporting children and young people, but I also enjoy times when I get to work directly with children and their families. Often, when working with young people who have got in to trouble with the police, or who are having challenges at school, it tends to be that they have encountered change and loss in some way or another, and my role is often about trying to help what this might be and how it is affecting the young person.

I am quite new to the clb group but am delighted to be part of it and hope I bring something useful, as well as learn too!  Already I have enjoyed learning about a number of different resources that look so helpful!  I have chosen a resource that may not be one people immediately associate with change, loss and bereavement – and in fact, it’s a ‘resource’  I have only recently been aware of.  But since I found it, I have referred to it a lot, have signposted many people to it and have used it myself.  So… what is this magical resource?!  Its an app called ‘Insight Timer’ 

Loch Earn, Scotland, High, Loch, Earn, Mountains

It’s a free app (or you can just refer to the website) which offers talks, courses, music, meditations, to help with stress, anxiety and sleep.  I think we can all acknowledge that during times of change, loss or bereavement, it can often lead to stress and anxiety, and/or can lead to difficulties with sleeping.  The app has some great tips and practices to help with this, as well as a section for parents who are looking for tips to help ease their children’s nerves and boost their self-confidence.  The app might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for some it will be just what you’ve been looking for!

Meet our team – instalment two

Hi, I am Isabel Shaver and I am an Educational Psychologist who works in Highland. I am a Seasons for Growth Trainer and I have been training staff in Highland to become Seasons for Growth companions for the last 12 years, introducing Seasons to Highland not long after I moved up here to work. I am also a member of the CLB group and a member of the group who develop and review the Tragic Event Guidance for Schools. 

Being asked to share a resource I use regularly and find helpful was difficult because there are so many resources, I thought about including the CBUK website that Jo has already mentioned as well as Winston’s Wish, Child Bereavement Network, Young Minds  and Papyrus websites and of course the Seasons programme.

Seasons would be the resource I would choose to share because having the opportunity to attend a Seasons group makes a significant difference to many children and young people. We hear again and again from children and young people who have attended a group (and from their parents/carers, companions and staff at school) about the positive difference this has made. Attending a group provides the opportunity to explore with others the impact of significant change, loss and/or bereavement, including the opportunity to safely explore feelings as a result of the loss. Even when a child or young person doesn’t want to talk about what has happened.  But of course this site has much more information about Seasons without me speaking about it so please do go to the Seasons site and find out more if you are interested.  Or view our Seasons pages here.

On reflection which one resource am I choosing to share? Well I have chosen one which children/ young people and their families continually report is useful when dealing with the death of someone important to them. This resource is the set  of ‘I can’ cards which are now available as a download. A group of bereaved pupils working with Seasons for Growth in Scotland came up with a list of suggestions for support and these suggestions were printed on cards so that children and young people who are dealing with the death of someone important to them can use the cards to let others around them know how to help them. Finding words when dealing with the death of someone important to you can be difficult, however using these cards can help young people to open up conversations or alternatively mean that others can get an idea of how to help without words being used. Children and young people can choose to use these cards to share with others (including their parents, friends and teachers). It is not uncommon to feel powerless and alone when dealing with the death of someone important but this resource can help children and young people to feel connected with others and to have a bit of control in dealing with what has happened. Not all children and young people will want to use them but those who do tell us they have found them helpful.

Click on each card below to access a copy to download.

Updated Book List

I know we have mentioned our book list before, but we thought we would remind you that we try to update it regularly. This week, Alison from the National Autistic Society got in touch with some new additions. They can be found here.

It was great to see that so many of you have already downloaded the book list, and the Tragic Events Guidance. We will continue to add relevant information, guidance, website links and tools as and when we receive them.

Thank you also to those of you who have signed up to our blog so that you will get notifications when we update the site. Please feel free to share the site far and wide so that it can be helpful to as many people as possible.

You can sign up to receive notifications of our new blog posts here.

Meet the CLB Team, and hear about our favourite resources

Happy New Year everyone, and welcome to our new followers. We thought it might be useful to say hello and for each of us to share a resource we use regularly and find helpful. So here is our first instalment.

I’m Jo, my day job is ‘Transitions Co-ordinator’, I’m a Seasons for Growth Trainer and Companion and I am a member of the CLB group here in Highland. In real life, I have just returned to work after a year off on Maternity Leave with my very fun and increasingly mischievous daughter!

Ordinarily, I think had I been asked what my go to resource was in terms of change and loss I might have talked about Seasons or the CBUK website. However, after welcoming Eva to the world 11 months ago, and living the last 10 months in a pandemic, my resource has to be bumps to bairns.

Not necessarily what jumps to mind when you think of change and loss?

Bumps to bairns is full of evidence based information and guidance about our little people, from baby to 5 years old. The site’s tagline sums it up ‘Early help for Highland children’.

So why is this my favourite resource, and what has it got to do with the subject of this website?

Well, I’m sure we can all agree that it has been a funny old year. Nothing has been certain; apart from change! I can’t tell you how many times my Mum friends have expressed guilt and fear that they aren’t doing enough. Bumps to bairns is a great place to visit if you have questions, if you want some information and so importantly right now; for some ideas of what to do with your children while we are staying at home.

The advice I needed to hear this week was this:

“Play and talk is all you need

What really matters for young children? It is “just” time to play and to chat. If you do things that everyone enjoys and can chatter about, then learning is automatically going to happen. It just will.”

Thank you to James and the team behind bumps to bairns, your website has been so helpful to me in the transition to becoming a parent, being a parent in lockdown and in doing so it has helped me to be more accepting of the changes that are occurring around us daily.

When People Die: Stories from Young People

When People Die: Stories from Young People is a comic that tells numerous stories about death and resilience from a group of young people. The comic helps
readers gain different and better perspectives on grief and what grieving means for young people.
These stories and scenarios have been written by a group of young people selected from Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (Robin House), HMYOI
Polmont, and Richmond’s Hope, and put together by the team at the Dundee Comics Creative Space.

This comic will help people such as school
teachers, guidance counsellors and anyone who reads it to learn more about how it feels to be in the position of a grieving young person.
Find the link to the comic on our resources page here.

Why might our book list help?

We asked one young person how using the books on our book list had helped her.
One of the Primary Mental Health Work Team in Highland had recommended Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley to her and her Mum after her Grandad had died. She was worried about how everyone was coping, and even read it with her Gran. This was what she thought about it:

How did the book help you to talk about Grandad’s death?

  • The book made me feel like I wasn’t alone and I got more confidence to talk about it.

Did the book make it easier to talk about death?

  • I understood that it was easier to talk to someone about it.

Did it help?

  • I felt much better once I read the book.

Did it help Granny?

  • My Gran felt better after I read it to her.  I felt sad before I read the book but after I felt more comfortable.

The book helped me and Granny to talk about our memories of Grandad.  At the start I thought it wasn’t okay to cry but when Granny started to cry I felt that I could cry too, because it was a sad time.

Thank you Lucy for sharing your thoughts on Badger’s Parting Gifts.

Is Seasons for Growth helpful? We asked a pupil who has taken part in a group.

Seasons for Growth Level 3 by Anne P Graham 

Someone close to me died. Before the group i felt like i couldn’t talk about it to other people.

I realised I could talk about it because other people have experienced the same type of thing.

I was a bit nervous in the beginning but after a few weeks I realised I didn’t need to be  nervous.

Over time I started to enjoy the group. I would 100% recommend it to someone going through the same thing.   

Aiden Primary 7

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine, written by Diana Crossley and illustrated by Kate Sheppard is an activity book for bereaved children that we often recommend to Parents and Schools.
Children can dip in and out of the activities; picking the ones that they are interested in. We have been fortunate enough to see it in use and it has allowed for children to complete activities with their families or with trusted members of staff. In completing the activities, children often find it easier to talk about their loss with the trusted adult.

Don’t just take our word for it though! Here is a review of the book from a pupil who used it last year, with the support of a Pupil Support Assistant:

“Someone close to me died I was really upset.

 Sometimes I struggled to stay in class.

This activity book helped me remember good memories about the person. It also helped to talk about the person.

The memory jar was my favourite activity in the book it was my favourite because it was fun to do.

Sometimes it helped me distract myself from being upset.

I brought the jar home and still sometimes look at it to remind me about the person.”

By Aiden, Primary 7