Local stillbirth and neonatal death charity Sands NI - which has a branch in Coleraine - is urging businesses to lend their support to ensure they sustain their vital services into 2018.
Sands NI specialises in supporting parents and families who have lost their child before, during or after birth and is currently raising funds to build a bereavement suite in Antrim Area Hospital.
Here in Northern Ireland, more than three babies a week are stillborn or die in their first four weeks. Friends and family do their best to be supportive at such a difficult time, but parents may understandably require ongoing support.
Asking for business support Steven Guy from Sands NI, commented: “Sadly three Northern Ireland families are bereaved each and every week. There are no words to describe the change that such a death can have on family life, or even the struggle to help explain the loss to an older sibling.
“We are here for anyone affected by the death of a baby as they face things that they have probably never even considered before. It can be such an overwhelming experience. Our support services are there to help the wider family circle too, and many of our service users are grandparents and siblings.”
The stillbirth and neonatal death society, set up in 1975, offers a wide range of support services, including maternity rights, explaining the loss to older siblings and finding ways to commemorate the loss of a child.
For those seeking support Sands monthly support groups are available in Antrim, Belfast, Coleraine, Cookstown, Derry/Londonderry, Downpatrick, Enniskillen, Newry, Omagh and Portadown.
Sands NI also offers: memorials, befriending, liaison with local hospitals and health professionals, fundraising for local and national facilities and services.
Encouraging other businesses to get behind Sands NI, Rochelle Magee from firmus energy said: “firmus energy made Sands NI its 2017 charity of the year because we recognised the vital work being done to support families who are experiencing unimaginable loss. Even a little help goes a long way.
“We raised over £8,500 by holding Bake Off competitions, fancy dress days, and leaving collection boxes at various locations around the office. Some of our team even raised thirteen hundred pounds by completing a 15 mile Mourne Challenge in June, so the opportunities are endless.”
To offer your support or for more information on the support services available visit www.sandsni.org or get in touch with a member of the Sands compassionate team on 07740 993450.