More support for bereaved families across Wales debated in Senedd two years after petition

Rhian Mannings, founder of 2Wish, and her family handed the petition into the Senedd in November 2019.

More support for families who suddenly lose a child will be debated by Welsh politicians after a petition calling for change has finally made it to the Senedd.

Almost two years ago, the bereavement support charity 2Wish presented the petition to government urging for grief support to be put in place that is immediately accessible to a bereaved parent.

The petition, which has more than 5,000 signatures, is being debated by the plenary committee on 3 November with an outcome expected on the same day.

It is hoped immediate support will be available to families of children and adults under 25 who die unexpectedly.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said they want to "ensure" families get "the care and support they need". They added that they have been working with charities to improve services and have a £1m Bereavement Support Grant that can be accessed by the third sector.

One family in support of the petition is Nadine Marshall, whose son Conner was murdered in 2015 and had support from 2Wish.

Nadine has praised the charity for going "beyond their expectations" since the tragic incident.

"2Wish has given us the chance to live with grief in a positive and unique way," she said.

"We have benefited from alternative therapy, counselling and friendship."

Conner's mother, Nadine, says specialist support is very much needed after her son was murdered in 2015.

The aim of the charity is to ensure that all those affected by the sudden and traumatic death of a child or adult under 25 will receive the support they deserve. 2Wish has helped more than 960 families since 2015.

There is currently no official bereavement resources for these families in Wales.

The charity has built relationships with every police force, coroner and organ donation team across Wales to make sure no family is missed.

In addition, 2Wish has helped set up immediate support pathways in place in every Emergency Unit and Critical Care Unit.

Nadine added: "Meeting other families who are sadly part of a grief-stricken community has been so helpful. Knowing we can reach out at any time is comforting and very much appreciated.

"This petition is needed to allow families support and advice at a time that is harrowing, frightening and life changing. Suddenly bereaved families are affected in so many ways for ever. The types of specialist support offered is very much needed and deserved."

Rhian Mannings, founder of 2Wish, explains how a traumatic loss can have "a huge impact on the mental health of parents, siblings and other family members".

Rhian set up the charity after she and her husband Paul experienced the heartache of losing their baby son George, aged one. They left the hospital heartbroken, confused and bewildered. Five days later, Paul took his own life.

Rhian Mannings pictured with husband Paul and son George.

The experience led Rhian to set up the charity to give support to other families like hers.

"When we lost George, we walked out of the hospital with nothing, alone and frightened," she said.

"Nobody came, nobody reached out to support us, apart from family and friends who were grieving themselves. I am determined that this will never happen again to a family in Wales.

"I know from speaking to staff and families that our service is changing lives for everyone involved in the sudden death of a child or young adult and we want the Welsh Government to ensure all families get the offer of support when needed most."

The support that 2Wish offers includes counselling, memory boxes and an immediate support pathway working with health boards and police forces in Wales.

Jack Sargeant MS for Alyn and Deeside is a strong supporter for the debate and petition.

He believes it is about ensuring clear, immediate referral pathways are put in place when a family loses a child or young adult unexpectedly.

A Welsh Government spokesperson, said: “Losing a child is devastating and we want to ensure we provide families with the care and support they need. 

"Over the last two years we have worked with many charities including 2 Wish as part of our National Bereavement Steering Group to review and improve bereavement services for families across Wales. 

"We also held a public consultation to seek people’s views. Following this work we have recently launched a new bereavement framework. The new framework sets out the support people should expect to receive if they are facing or have experienced a bereavement.

"The new framework is supported by a £1m Bereavement Support Grant that can be accessed by the third sector. An additional £420k will also be provided to health boards.”

An outcome from the debate is expected in the afternoon on Wednesday 3 November.