Sunday, 23 June 2024
UK Charity Week 2024 - Sponsored by Sinclair Method UK
Sunday, 23 June 2024

Memory-making charity steps in to help families through the agony of baby loss

MEMORY-making charity me&dee is now offering its compassionate work to help families at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton (UHDB) through the profound grief of baby and child loss.

The charity founded and run by Maria Hanson MBE helps hundreds of families in the East Midlands to make memories together after their child has been diagnosed with a life-limiting condition, meaning time together is precious and short.

It has seen a huge spike in demand for its services over the past year with hundreds more inquiries, and a far higher need to provide a quick, reactive service for families who often very sadly have very little time left together.

Taylor Lewis with Craig Forsyth
Taylor Lewis with Craig Forsyth

In recent months, me&dee has paid for days out with animal encounters and a weekend trip to Gulliver’s in Matlock for a family with a child suffering from terminal cancer – closely followed by offering support through the funeral.

Because the charity is now seeing greater and more acute need, it is working more closely than ever with Royal Derby Hospital and Queen’s Hospital Burton where neonatal bereavement teams help provide comfort to families who have gone through a bereavement.

Kate Jackson, a bereavement nurse who works alongside Caroline Dodd at UHDB, said:

“Our work is about making memories and giving parents the opportunity to make memories with their children after they have died. A lot of our work also relates to children who are unwell but they have got time to spend with their family and the work of me&dee is allowing us to be able to help families make these memories.”

me&dee is now funding precious memory-makers such as hand and feet casts; cots and prams for families who may not have expected to take their baby home – even for a short time – and soft blankets to provide comfort during difficult times.

Kate added: “We are aiming to create as many memories here in hospital as we possibly can. Research shows that whatever you can do at the time of a death, the better a person’s grief and bereavement journey. It’s just so important for the rest of someone’s life that they are given space, time and compassion at the saddest of times.

“Maria and her charity also offer ongoing care because they recognise that families need this for some time following a bereavement. Maria is very aware of grief and bereavement. She’s just so kind-hearted. She really puts families before herself. She just seems to have an emotional understanding of just how important these things are.

“We feel very privileged to dedicate our time to supporting parents going through bereavement. The charity’s support allows us to do the best we can in terms of making memories for those families and making such a difference for them.

me&dee also works closely with UHDB’s children’s departments, providing comfort packs to families including cuddly toys, books and activities for children, along with toothbrushes and toothpaste; tea and coffee and soup sachets for parents; notebooks and pencils to write things down – all aimed at making a trip to hospital easier to bear.

Maria Hanson MBE said:

“Our work at me&dee is constantly evolving. We have seen a huge increase in numbers, going from helping around 100 families a year to 500. That’s why we are now working much more closely with UHDB so we can provide support where it is really needed. Through helping so many people over the years I know just how important it is to grieve for those we have lost and to have had the opportunity to make happy memories together for the time when those are all we have left.

“Very sadly, many of the families we are now helping really haven’t got long together so we are focusing much more on working with hospitals and on providing short days out at places like White Post Farm in Nottingham. It’s so important to us to be able to give families time together where we can, even when there may only be days left. It’s our passion and our life’s work and our work with bereavement teams is an important new direction for us.”

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