Our Story

We have been supporting bereaved families in the community for 40 years

Our Story

Held In Our Hearts was formerly known as Sands Lothians until 2020.  Throughout the last 40 years, the charity was, and still is, unique in recognising that everyone’s journey after loss is different and our services have always been flexible to reflect this.  Our counselling support is something we believe is important so families and although not all parents will need counselling, we want to make sure that we can hold families throughout their journey making access to the right support easier and also allowing us to get to know families.

Here is a little history of the journey we have been on until this day –

In 1986 Prof. Neil MacIntosh came to Edinburgh to work as Head of the Department of Child Life and Health. He was a huge influence on SANDS in Edinburgh. He involved them in speaking at medical student tutorials which were of great benefit to the students.  This is something we still do to this present day as well as part of St John’s and Simpsons’ bereavement training days.  At the heart of all these talks is the voice of a bereaved parent and this will always provide any professional with the clearest understanding of loss. 

In 1990 Dorothy Maitland took over running the charity. One of the first things she introduced was a separate telephone line in her house so that Edinburgh SANDS could be listed in the telephone book. This was to prove to be a great asset. The meetings had to progress from members’ houses to a church hall as the meetings became so big. Sometimes up to 50 parents attended. She also introduced memorial services throughout the year and she engaged in talks with the local maternity hospital.

In 1993 – 1995 there were huge changes. A Sands Family Room was opened at the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion on the ante-natal ward. This was joint funded by the Hospital and Edinburgh Sands. It gave parents the time and privacy to spend with their stillborn baby and also for close friends and family to visit. The room was a great comfort to many parents and their families. Many babies were baptised in this room too. Around this time the charity registered at Sands Lothians and introduced counselling.  The counselling support made the charity unique in offering this as an extension of what other baby loss charities were offering and has grown ever since.  We have been happy in our Craiglockhart ‘home’ since August 2000 and also have our West Lothian premises which we secured in 2012. 

The majority of our staff are bereaved parents themselves so understand the impact of baby loss.  Our services continue to grow and we continue to evolve our services to meet the needs of families.  We are proud of our history and our doors and hearts are always open to anyone following the death of a precious baby.