Sands Northern Ireland Network
Sands Northern Ireland Network (SandsNI) is the regional branch of SandsUK. Sands was founded in 1978 by a small group of bereaved parents devastated by the death of their babies and in particular what they felt was a complete lack of knowledge and understanding of the significance and impact of their loss. Sands has around 100 support groups across the UK with 10 of these in Northern Ireland. All the support groups are run by trained Sands Befrienders who are bereaved parents themselves and have been supported through their grief by Sands and are now giving that support back to other parents.
Steven Guy, SandsNI Network Co-ordinator says
SandsNI provides support to bereaved parents through our monthly support evenings where parents can chat informally over a cup of tea or coffee about how they are coping with their loss. We also provide every maternity & neonatal unit in Northern Ireland with Sands leaflet packs and Memory Boxes. The Memory Boxes include a hand-knit blanket, 2(Identical) teddy bears, one for baby, one for the parents and an inkless hand & footprint kit. The boxes encourage parents to create as many memories of their baby as possible in the short time they have with them. Training, accredited by the Royal College of Midwives, is also provided to health professionals and is delivered by the SandsUK team of facilitators. We also support research into the causes of baby deaths and in 2014 £50,000 was donated by SandsNI to fund several SandsUK projects. We have a NI Helpline 07740993450 which is available during office hours for parents to speak to someone about their loss. We have a dedicated Baby Garden in Portadown where parents can lay a simple stone with their baby’s name hand-painted on it among the flowers and plants in the garden and next to the other babies stones. We also have 2 Christmas carol services, Portadown and Derry, where parents are invited to buy a toy or gift for the age their child would be each Christmas. These toys & gifts are donated to the St Vincent De Paul/ Salvation Army toy appeal. Everything we do is funded by the fundraising efforts of the parents we support and we are extremely grateful to everyone who fundraises for us because without their efforts we could not continue to support the parents who are bereaved every year in Northern Ireland.