I have been volunteering with Simon Says for 13 years now and have seen so many changes in that time. I first saw an ad in a local paper looking for people with an interest in art and crafts to work with bereaved children and although I had absolutely no experience of bereavement issues (other than within my family and friends), or working with children, something told me this was for me! My hobbies have always revolved around anything to do with arts and crafts so I felt I may have something to offer.

Simon Says offers fantastic training to all volunteers and during this time I gained confidence in the bereavement subject and learned how the charity strives to support children and families. When I started there was just one monthly support group and from my first session I was overwhelmed by how much these sessions obviously helped families deal with, and express, their grief. The art and craft sessions were incredibly powerful, allowing the children to simply draw or write how they were feeling, or to make memory frames or boxes, coloured sand jars or journals and more. I could soon see the positive impact of how these sessions also made the children feel less alone in their grief and how they grew in confidence, adapted to their new family situations, and moved forward.

Since I started, that one support group has expanded to seven across Hampshire and the charity has grown significantly in many aspects. I am proud to be part of such an amazing charity and the rewards of seeing how the children and families progress on their journeys is a real privilege. Volunteering has given so much back to me, I have met some incredible people, made wonderful friends, learnt a huge amount and if I have helped just one child or family, then I’m very glad I responded to that ad!

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