ON THE GROUND: St Christopher's Hospice - The Candle Project

Scheme: St Christopher's Hospice has been providing bereavement counselling to patients' families for 35 years. The Candle Project was launched in 1998 to extend this support to all children, young people and their families in South East London. Candle was the first service of its kind to be established in the UK and now also advises organisations such as the Police Force on how to handle bereaved children

Funding: The Candle Project was launched with £100,000 of start-up money from a major charitable trust, plus an appeal to the St Christopher's Hospice Friends which raised an initial £20,000. Additional gifts were later received from other charitable trusts, totalling £40,000. Monies in hand are estimated to last to the end of the year

Objectives: To provide one-to-one counselling for any child or young person in South East London experiencing loss through death. To offer training, advice and consultancy for local schools and healthcare professionals and an advice service for parents and professional carers

"The Candle Project stemmed from a need in the community for a counselling service that focused specifically on the needs of children who had experienced sudden bereavement,

explains Barbara Monroe, chief executive, St Christopher's Hospice.

"Many adults try to protect children when a death occurs, to shelter the child from pain or sadness. In reality the child is aware of what is going on and often the protection offered by adults can make the child feel excluded and confused. Like adults, children handle bereavement in a variety of ways and their unhappiness can manifest itself in sadness, naughtiness or problems sleeping. It is by helping children in these early stages that problems can be avoided later in life."

In addition to supporting the needs of individual children, Candle also offers support to schools in its local area by sending counsellors to advise teachers on how to handle bereavement. For example, after the death of a classmate, teachers may encounter questions from other pupils or find it difficult to identify the best time to remove a name from the register, or take artwork down from the walls.

Since its beginnings in 1998, word of the Candle Project has spread and its project director, Frances Krause, has been involved in a number of projects countrywide. After the Paddington rail crash in 1999, the police requested the help of Frances in the training of its Family Liaison officers.

Most recently Frances advised the Department for Culture Media and Sport to help provide support to the UK families of the victims of 11 September.

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