IT is almost 30 years since a much-needed charity was launched offering support to bereaved families in the Highlands who had suffered the death of their babies.
Much has been achieved by Inverness Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) over the last three decades, but an urgent appeal for volunteers has been made.
Inverness Sands is one of UK Sands’ local support groups which play an enormous part in supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby.
The Group was set up in August 1986. Elizabeth Massie and Audrey Lauder are two of the founder members and both suffered the death of their babies.
But Audrey is retiring as a befriender and is hoping new blood with volunteer to allow the charity to continue its role for at least another 30 years.
There was no support for people whose babies had died in the area at the time, so there was a great need for this Sands support group which covers the Highlands.
Over the years the group has been very active with many committee members and group members carrying out activities.
These include befriending bereaved parents, telephone support, group support meetings, work with their local hospital - including funding a bereavement suite, a quiet room in the hospital where parents can go to ‘escape’ for a short time – and funding bereavement training.
More recently funding midwife Fiona Mundell to train as a bereavement counsellor and she is now working within NHS as a counsellor.
The group were able to achieve all of this through fundraising and generous donations from bereaved parents.
However the support Group urgently needs more volunteers to help continue to provide this level of support to families and help to hospitals.
Audrey has been part of this group for over 25 years and has made an outstanding contribution to all those affected by the death of a baby in the local area.
She will shortly be retiring and would like to find others in the area who wish to join the group and move it forward, so it can continue to support and provide this vital service for so many parents who endure this modern day tragedy.
Audrey said: “As a Sands befriender for the last 28 years I feel it has been a privilege and an honour to support bereaved parents in Inverness and the Highlands some of whom have become a friend.
“When your baby dies you and your family are completely devastated and cannot imagine ever coming through that devastation, but with support from Sands many do, learning to live life all be it differently but never forgetting their precious baby.
“I hope Inverness Sands will continue for another 30 years successfully supporting bereaved parents in the Highlands.”
Sands was established nationally by bereaved parents in 1978.
It supports anyone affected by the death of a baby and works in partnership with health professionals to improve the quality of care and services offered to bereaved families.
The charity also promotes and funds research and changes in practice that could help to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.
Sands has around 100 regional support groups across the UK. Further information can be found at www.uk-sands.org.
For further details or to find out how you can get involved with this support group please contact Sands’ Scotland Network Coordinator Ann McMurray on 0203 598 1935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.