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Bereavement support for all

538. Helen Lyons

A bereaved mother from Cheshire provides support for hundreds of others who have lost loved ones.

Helen Lyons, 34, tragically lost her daughter, Elsie, before she had reached the age of two. She had been ill for several months but the doctors struggled to diagnose the source of her condition until it was too late.

After this experience, Helen became particularly aware of how her daughter, Florence, needed support to get through such a tragic event at such a young age. Helen set up ‘Elsie Ever After’ so that everyone, regardless of location or circumstance, could access the bereavement support of their choice.

Elsie Ever After began by supporting the local Hospice (The Hospice of the Good Shepherd) who provided crucial bereavement support for her family after Elsie died. The funds raised provided quarterly remembering days, which offered an invaluable opportunity for bereaved children, young people and families to spend time with people who had also lost someone special.

Helen then went on to provide direct bereavement support for those people who do not meet the criteria for counselling elsewhere. Now she offers a range of free services, such as: expressive dance classes for bereaved children; face to face counselling; an online bereaved parent support group; signposting services; guidance for adults working with bereaved children and personalised bereavement packs.

Her mission is to link all existing bereavement services and to plug the gap where services are lacking. In just 2 years, she has raised over £33,000; had over 78 families referred to her for personalised support and guidance; and given out 1,300 bereavement packs for children.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Helen is a true Point of Light, despite suffering her own great personal loss, she has devoted her time to invaluable work that has touched the lives of so many people. By choosing to use her experiences to help parents and children who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, she has made sure families in the North West always have somewhere to turn for bereavement support in their time of need.”

Helen said:

“I was both shocked and delighted to be chosen to receive a Point of Light Award from the Prime Minister. I am so honoured to be recognised for the work I am doing to support bereaved families through ‘Elsie Ever After’. I accept this award on behalf of all the amazing volunteers and organisations who work tirelessly to provide crucial bereavement support in our area and nationwide. I dedicate this award to every single one of our supporters who have followed our journey, raised funds for us, given their skills and time and spread the word, so families can get the support they need at the time they need it most. I am truly humbled to be supported by such generous and loyal supporters. Without them, none of what we do would be possible.”

“When my daughter died, I realised that no-one could make the situation any better, but small acts of kindness could bring light to our darkest days: this is what we hope we are doing for others through the support we are providing. Elsie was such a bright spark herself: bringing joy and love to friends and strangers alike. In the words of Emeli Sande’s song ‘Wonder’, which we played at Elsie’s celebration service – This light is contagious, go tell your neighbours, reach out and pass it on.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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