A Place on the Board: Barbara Want of Winston's Wish

Want joined the board after her own family received support from the childhood bereavement charity

Barbara Want
Barbara Want

Barbara Want, a writer and broadcaster, lost her husband to cancer in 2006 when their twin sons were four and a half. "I discovered that their loss was devastating to them beyond anything that I could have predicted," she says. "I learned from watching them that children's grief is different from that of adults. They don't know how to express how they feel and go into lockdown."

Over the next couple of years her family received help from Winston's Wish, the childhood bereavement charity: on one occasion, they attended a weekend retreat at which the children mixed with others who had gone through similar experiences. "As we drove home afterwards, they asked if we could come back the following year," she says.

Want had written articles and a book about bereavement, which resulted in her being asked to serve on the charity's advisory board. After this, she was invited to join the board of trustees. So far she has attended one board meeting.

"The time commitment is the hardest thing – I'm the only one on the board with no partner, so I have to be furiously time-savvy," she says.

She is the only trustee who has experience of the charity's services, and she says she is surprised about how much responsibility the role of trustee entails. "It is daunting and humbling," she says. "I am learning about how to think strategically."

The board is discussing where it will be in five years. "No one can drift along without goals and aims," she says. "One discussion is whether to have branches of the charity in more places or to go into more schools.

"My view is the latter: my ambition is for schools to have a better understanding of the impact of bereavement. Many schools are ill-equipped and handle it badly. It's shocking that teachers have no training in loss."

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