The Value Of Our Work

A word from one of our Trustees:

Recently I read an article by the daughter of a lady who had given birth to a baby girl 40 years ago. Sadly the baby died at 2 days old and the mother had never spoken about it until very recently. The daughter was vaguely aware of this child but as her Mum had never talked about her she knew little of the circumstances and was shocked to learn that her Mum had never been told anything about why things went wrong at the end of a healthy full term pregnancy, only a hazy memory of losing the placenta and being pushed back on the bed screaming. The funeral was arranged by others whilst she was still in hospital, without her even seeing her baby, and no-one ever talked about her. The daughter had recently had a baby herself and was upset when she realised her Mum had never had the chance to grieve over the loss of her baby and had carried the heavy weight of her sadness and trauma around with her for so many years. This had impacted on her relationships and she had subsequently gone through an acrimonious divorce.  

Hopefully these days we have moved on and much more understanding and support is available when someone loses a baby.  October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month and there are various events and services around the county in commemoration. Losing a baby can be so terribly painful and whilst organisations like SANDS have raised awareness and sensitivity many people still feel they cannot share the agony of their grief. Family and friends feel helpless in the face of what no parent should ever have to go through or are worried about saying the ‘wrong thing’ so say nothing. Parents are left feeling isolated, that they should move on but cannot, very sad and burdened by their grief.

The birth of her grandchild had prompted this lady’s memories of the baby that she had lost. Traumatic events cansad result in people burying their emotions and unconsciously they work hard to keep them locked away because the feelings of grief, fear and loss are too hard to bear. This can be an effective coping mechanism but these repressed feelings are still there and can have a negative impact on how people live their lives.

Footsteps Counselling and Care is a charitable organisation that offers free counselling to anyone in Glouestershire affected by pregnancy or baby loss. Counselling can provide a sense of safety in a neutral place with someone who understands, enabling people to safely explore their feelings and emotions around their sadness and grief. This can provide a great sense of release, like the lancing of a boil, allowing some healing and the strength to move on. Feeling listened to, understood and accepted can be very powerful and therapeutic.

The counselling provided by Footsteps Counselling and Care is free at the point of delivery as we do not want anyone excluded due to their financial circumstances. All the counsellors and other supporters are volunteers but there are other costs involved. For instance we are organisational members of the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) and abide by their ethical code. This requires that all the counsellors have clinical supervision regularly and CPD (Continuing Professional Development) The Trustees feel that it is important that people access counselling as soon as possible without the worry of whether or not they can afford it especially as early help following a loss or trauma seems to prevent an escalation of problems..

Counseling ChairsResearch shows that counselling is an effective way of providing help to people who have suffered the devastating loss of a baby or small child. Grief can be profoundly destabilizing and for some people so devastating that it can lead to depression, anxiety, hypertension and substance abuse, social isolation and loneliness.

Footsteps Counselling and Care is a relatively new small charity but demand for our services is growing more quickly than we had anticipated indicating a great need. Referrals come from bereavement midwives, health visitors, GPs, social workers etc as well as people who self-refer – but we feel that there are many more people who would benefit from the counselling that we offer. In order to sustain and expand our service we need funding and people willing to volunteer or to become a Trustee with useful skills (for fund raising, grant applications, business, marketing, HR, retail) as well as more volunteer counsellors. Trained counsellors working towards full accreditation with the BACP would gain valuable experience by volunteering with Footsteps Counselling and Care. Our basic funding comes from our Charity Shop based in Westgate Street, Gloucester (opposite KFC and next to the Fountain Inn) but we need additional money to comply with the requirements of the BACP.

If the work of Footsteps Counselling and Care resonates with you and you would like to support us in any way please do not hesitate to contact us on 01452 308618,