For the first month of Our Sam’s ‘Talking out Loud’ blog posts, we are delighted to have Sands as our spotlight organisation. If you go to our Podcast section, you will also find an in-depth interview between Dr Clea Harmer (CEO Sands) and Our Sam Founder, Philippa Davies, where they discuss the development of Sands, support for bereaved parents and Baby Loss Awareness Week 2021.
Sands is the UK’s leading baby loss charity and offers bereavement support to anyone affected by the death of a baby before, during or shortly after birth.
For more than 40 years, Sands has always been there; walking with bereaved parents as they navigate their lives without their babies, providing a safe space to grieve and commemorate their babies, working with the NHS to provide empathetic bereavement care and campaigning to save babies’ lives.
Sands you will find a safe, compassionate community ready to walk alongside you on your journey through grief, in whatever way is right for you, for as long as you need this.
From the moment a baby dies the world is changed forever, and there are no simple answers to grief. For many people this is a lifelong journey to a new way of coping and how you look after yourself is different for everyone.
Watch our animation that explores this journey and illustrates how with support and understanding from those around them bereaved families will remember their baby in their own way and find their way to live with their grief.
Grief is a personal and unique emotion and so are the ways that people find to feel better. We know that as grief changes the need for support can change too. That’s why at Sands we have a variety of ways we can support so that we are always there for bereaved parents, families, friends and health professionals.
Sands United FC is a unique way for dads and other bereaved family members to come together through a shared love of sport and find a support network where they can feel at ease talking about their grief when they’re ready.
And we have a network of local support groups in various locations across the UK.
Our free Bereavement Support Book is also available to guide you through this difficult time.
For many parents the most important thing is to try and make sense of what happened, to understand why their baby died, and to try and make sure that nobody else ever has to go through what they have been through.
Every year in the UK nearly 5,000 babies die before, during or shortly after birth. That’s 14 babies every day. So there are many thousands of parents who need care and support at the most devastating moment in their lives.
At Sands we are determined to save babies’ lives today and in the future, and to understand the causes of pregnancy and baby loss, so that as few families as possible have to go through the pain of bereavement.
It is still not fully understood why many babies die, or what more can be done to prevent deaths. We believe that it is crucial to understand why babies’ die through both research and ensuring a proper review is undertaken; we then need to ensure that this learning ensures that everyone gets safe and personalised maternity care.
Research not only saves babies’ lives, it also improves care and support for bereaved families. Investment in research is vital to increase knowledge, to improve care, and to maintain the political will to reduce baby deaths.
Professionals such as midwives, doctors, nurses and others working on the frontline of the NHS are often the first people to speak to a mother or father after their baby has died. The care that parents receive around this time has a huge impact on their long-term wellbeing. Good care cannot remove the pain and devastation that bereaved parents experience, but poor or insensitive care makes things worse, both immediately and in the months and years that follow.
Sands has pioneered improvements in the bereavement care that parents are given and has led on the development and roll out of the National Bereavement Care Pathway to improve the quality and consistency of bereavement care received by parents in NHS trusts across the UK.
We work in partnership with other charities and organisations to raise awareness of pregnancy and baby loss, reach more people who need support, improve care and save babies’ lives. Sands is one of the founding charities and now leads on the annual Baby Loss Awareness Week (9-15 October) and is a is a member of the Pregnancy & Baby Charities Network. We have recently taken on the Secretariat of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Baby Loss and launched a Joint Policy Unit with Tommy’s.
We couldn’t do any of this without the thousands of bereaved parents who volunteer as befrienders, take on fundraising challenges, share their experiences to inform policy and research, and encourage their family and friends to support our campaigns.
In the last year alone our supporters have helped Sands to
• answer over 1,508 calls to our helpline and respond to more than 3,133 emails seeking support;
• send out 2,589 memory boxes and more than 4,030 hand and footprint kits;
• welcome a thousand more people to our dedicated Facebook support group.