Each month we highlight a charity that helps to make our communities better. This time we talk to Sands, the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, who support parents after the death of a baby and work both to improve bereavement care and to reduce baby death. They told us about their efforts, and why it’s important to break the silence around the loss of a baby.
Tell us about your charity.
Sands is the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. We support anyone who has been affected by the death of a baby, while also working to improve the care bereaved parents receive and promote research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.
Why is Sands’ work necessary?
Because sadly 15 babies die before, during or shortly after birth every day in the UK. The charity makes a huge difference by providing free support to anyone affected by the death of a baby, through our freephone national helpline, forum and network of support groups. We train thousands of midwives, doctors and other professionals so that they can provide the care parents desperately need when their baby has died. We are pioneering a National Bereavement Care Pathway that would make providing excellent bereavement care a priority for all hospitals. And we fund research to reduce the number of babies who die every day from 15 to zero. But there is much more work to be done.
What are your funding sources?
Over 80 percent of our income comes from our individual supporters—last year 47 percent was raised by those taking part in fundraising events and a further 39 percent was from voluntary donations and Gift Aid. Around 7 percent comes from our corporate partners or other organisations who support Sands’ initiatives and we are looking to grow this income stream in 2018. Just 3 percent of our funding comes from government and statutory bodies.
Almost all of these individual supporters and many of our corporate partners will have been inspired to take part in fundraising or make a donation in memory of a baby that has died. Fundraising can provide a positive focus for families in the immediate aftermath of their baby’s death, as they seek ways to remember them and help other families who are struggling.
Are there any obstacles your organisation faces?
When a baby dies at any gestation or age, people find it difficult to talk about—both bereaved parents and the people who know them. It can be hard to open up a conversation about such a taboo, sensitive subject, but it’s incredibly important to talk about baby death, not just as a person going through grief but as a society. There is a lot that we can learn about bereavement support, safer pregnancy and even medical treatment by giving those affected by baby loss a voice. Sands wants to break the silence and encourage people to talk openly about the death of a baby.
Do you hold fundraising events throughout the year?
We support people in their fundraising all year round whether it’s a self-organised event, an organised running event or a challenge event. The types of fundraising vary massively, from children taking part in a sponsored silence to those running the London Marathon; people jumping out of aeroplanes to those climbing mountains. Whatever the activity, we provide support to help them maximise their fundraising.
We also hold events specific to our Awareness Month in June; as part of Baby Loss Awareness Week from 9 to 15 October; and lots at Christmas as that can be an incredibly difficult time for families after their baby has died.
How can people get involved?
To give a Gift of Support this Christmas and ensure Sands’ support is available to anyone affected by the death of a baby, please visit our campaign page or text Hugs15 £10 to 70070.
Visit our website for 15 ways you can support bereaved families this Christmas.
Or join us in January and set yourself a challenge to support Sands’ work in 2018. Tick that one thing you’ve always wanted to do off your bucket list (shaved heads are in vogue this season)—or even nominate Sands as your company’s Charity of the Year. Whatever it is, we’d love you to become part of the Sands community. Visit our website for more ideas: www.sands.org.uk