New expansion in partnership with NHS Highlands

We are so pleased to announce the expansion of our baby loss counselling and support services to the Scottish Highlands to work in partnership with the NHS Highlands. Through the Covid-19 crisis, we have seen a huge increase in demand for their support services, with befriending increased by 54%, and their counselling service increased by 21%. In 2020, the charity held 1,050 virtual counselling sessions, saw 93 new referrals, 700 instances of virtual befriending, and over 40 virtual support groups for bereaved families. We have also seen an uptake in the number of referrals from out with their current geographical area, including the Highlands and this has shone a light on where there are gaps in long term bereavement care. Held In Our Hearts kept all staff on through the crisis, even employing 2 counsellors, 2 befrienders and increasing staff members’ hours to meet the growth in demand for baby loss counselling and support and will now be recruiting for Highlands based staff, as well as continuing to offer support remotely. Through the crisis, we have seen families they support feeling increasingly isolated and alone, cut off from their usual support networks through the Covid-19 crisis. We have also witnessed a worrying rise in reported cases of panic attacks and flashbacks, indicative of higher levels of trauma, as families tried to simultaneously cope with their grief, but also navigate the continually shifting landscape of the crisis. The charity will now be extending their service into the Highlands, offering specialist baby loss counselling, 1:1 and group befriending for families affected by baby loss. This expansion marks the first step towards filling a gap in local service provision and delivery for the Highlands, and it is hoped that our service will build a compassionate community dedicated to the care and support of bereaved parents. Nicola Welsh, Chief Executive Officer stated: “We believe that every bereaved parent should have equitable access to compassionate support, no matter where they live. After over 40 years of supporting families in Edinburgh and the Lothians, we are delighted to be expanding to this new area. We are looking forward to working alongside wonderful NHS colleagues in the Highlands to ensure that families in this area can receive essential, long term bereavement care that they deserve.” Mary Burnside, Deputy Director of Midwifery NHS Highland, stated: “NHS Highland are delighted to be working with Nicola and the Held in Our Hearts team. This collaborative partnership will help to further develop and strengthen bereavement care support for parents and families in Highland”.