Our Support Services
How can we help you?
Dawn’s story. A video showing how our support services have helped
The support provided is individual based on you and your family’s needs. You might want a home visit to start with. The outreach is flexible so that it suits you and takes place where and when you need it.
We will listen to you and offer a range of support services to help you cope with your loss. You can have a dedicated support worker with whom you can build a relationship, as well as having a referral to counselling and contact with other bereaved parents or grandparents.
Contact with a support worker can be a frequent appointment but this can also be a one-off conversation – whichever suits your circumstances. We support you. You are not expected to fit round a fixed service. Counselling can be arranged at any time -your grief is unique and we understand this. You can be linked with other families at any time in your bereavement.
One of the strengths of the Scottish Cot Death Trust is our outreach support service. We aim to provide bespoke support which best suits individuals when and where they need it. We have four community based Support Workers covering Scotland. Their background is in bereavement counselling and their role with the charity is to provide support, practical advice and information to help you in all aspects of your bereavement. Your community support worker is a dedicated point of contact for all of your bereavement needs. They can meet with you at home, talk on the phone or stay in touch by text or email if you prefer. They are professionally qualified to support you and help you make decisions about other support available such as counselling and peer support.
You can contact us at any time. It is important to get in touch only when you feel ready. No matter how long you have been bereaved, we can offer personalised support based on your individual circumstances.
Any contact and support will be led by you, at your own pace.
Initial contact & access to a support worker
1. Initial Contact
During our first contact with you we will spend a little time explaining the different types of support we offer and send out a support pack to you at home…
Your support pack includes information about who we are and what we can do for you. It will also include resources for other children in your family if …
3. Other support available
What support you choose to access is up to you. There is no time limit on when you can be referred for any of our support services. We believe it is…
A free professional counselling service is available for individuals and families directly affected by the loss of a baby or child. We work with a large pool of qualified counsellors around the country. You will not have to wait longer than a few weeks to see a counsellor as we currently have a contract with over 90 counsellors across Scotland.
The Counsellors and Clinical Psychologists we work with are all experienced and registered with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or with the British Psychological Society Chartered members registry. We understand that for some of the individuals we refer for counselling, their counselling needs can be complex. It is important to gauge when is the right time to access this support. Your dedicated support worker can help you with this. Counselling may not be for everyone but it is good to know we provide this service free of charge to anyone who feels it would help them.
There are many types of counselling therapies and it is important that you receive the right kind of therapy to help you the most. This is why we do not employ just one or two counsellors. We rely on a broad range of expertise across the country to ensure that you can see a counsellor close to where you live and that you can see the right counsellor for your needs.
Counselling may be for individuals, couples and for young adults and children too. Therapy for children is usually play therapy.
As with all counselling it is important that you can talk openly with someone and know that what you talk about is confidential between you and your counsellor. The Scottish Cot Death Trust will be invoiced for all the sessions booked for you and with your permission your counsellor will submit a final report at the end of your counselling sessions to let us know what type of therapy was used and whether you reached the outcome you desired from their perspective. We may also speak with you about your experience so that we can evaluate how effective the service is.
When you ask for a counselling referral we will first of all contact each of the counsellors in your area to check which one has availability…
You and your counsellor arrange between you when your sessions will take place. Sometimes this is weekly , sometimes fortnightly…
How many sessions?
We do not offer open ended counselling. We offer brief, short and long term counselling. This means that you and your counsellor will…
Can professionals access this?
Most of our counselling service is provided for family members who have experienced the sudden unexpected death of a baby or young child…
Where Are Our Counsellors?
Peer support includes our befriending service and online peer support groups. We can put you in contact with either one dedicated befriender – another mum, dad, grandmother or grandfather who has also experienced the death of a baby or child. You can meet them in person or speak to them by email, phone or text message. The relationship between you and your befriender is an informal support service. Your befriender is not a trained counsellor. It may be that in time you become friends and the support relationship changes. They will no longer be your befriender but you will mutually support one another although this does not happen in all cases and can take time. It might be that you only want to chat a couple of times on the phone or send some emails or text messages. Your befriender will understand this. They too perhaps reached out to speak to another parent or grandparent when they were looking for support.
If meeting face-to-face is important to you, we will match you with a befriender who lives close by. We will also always try to match you with someone who has lost a child of a similar age. It is a different experience for a family when their firstborn toddler dies, compared to a family where a baby has died who has several siblings.
Contact With Others
If you decide you would like contact with other parents or grandparents, we will check with you if meeting face- to-face…
Once we have identified a befriender for you, we will pass them your name and contact details (as long as we have your permission…
When we match someone with a befriender, we have to keep in mind their wellbeing too. We expect befrienders…
Private Online forums
Closed Facebook groups also provide peer support for those who want to share their thoughts and feelings with others who understand but who don’t think that befriending is right for them. Many people will decide that both having one person to talk with as well as a group helps them most. Whatever you decide, is what is right for you.
We have different online groups for parents and grandparents, and for families having another child.
These informal groups are private and peer-led. We hope this offers a space for people to talk and share experiences, but also for newly bereaved families to meet others who have had similar experiences.
When your baby or child has died suddenly and unexpectedly, it is common to feel very isolated and that you are the only person this has happened to. Many families find it comforting to meet other families who have had a similar experience.
The Scottish Cot Death Trust organises Family Days in different locations in Scotland at different times of the year which are free to attend. This means that as well as having a family day out, you can meet other bereaved families in a relaxed and more natural way.
“Family days are difficult but very beneficial to all the families, no matter where you are on your journey, be it 6 months, or 20 years from the death of your little one. The support you offer is vital, not only when you are newly bereaved but like for ourselves, 13 years down the road. To know you are available if we need support is a great comfort. The Trust has offered varying levels of support to our family over the years, which has been vital in dealing with the loss of our child. Many thanks.”
“The range of activities was perfect we loved it all”
Sometimes children need some additional help. If your community based bereavement support worker and you decide that this is the case, we can arrange for a play therapist to assess your child. If they agree that play therapy is needed, it is important that an adult is available to take the child to these sessions which can last for many months.
There are different types of play therapy just as there are different types of counselling therapies for adults. Your child can attend sessions with the therapist or Filial therapy may be suggested. This type of therapy is where parents work with the play therapist to learn techniques to support their child through structured play at home.
If your child / children are referred for play therapy, this will work in the same way as a counselling referral for an adult.
Play Therapy Referral
When you ask for a play therapy referral for your child we will first of all contact each of the play therapists…
Play Therapy appointments
Sometimes play therapy can be provided in the nursery or school setting but you may also have to take your child to a clinic…
How many sessions?
One session can last for an hour, but the initial assessment may take slightly longer. Your child will need to attend…
Practical activities for memory making
We can provide you with information about practical activities that you can do as a family to help siblings. From making memory jars to cuddle pillows, we can suggest ways to help them remember their brother or sister whilst doing an activity with you. Sometimes children find it easier to open up about their feelings when their hands are busy.
Our Sibling Support Books
The Scottish Cot Death Trust has helped develop two books for children. These books are designed to tackle the issues surrounding the death of a sibling in a sensitive but truthful way. If we are notified of siblings in the family when you are referred for support, we will send copies of Rory’s Star for each child as part of your support pack. If you have not received one, please contact us or let your support worker know. Rory’s Star is often also requested by other bereavement charities as it is such a child friendly resource. Copies can be purchased from our shop.
Rory’s Star – for children whose younger sibling died suddenly and unexpectedly
“Having worked extensively with bereaved families, I know it can be very difficult to support siblings in their grief and to encourage them to talk. “Rory’s Star” is an attractive and accessible way of explaining about death to young children, assuring them that what they are feeling is normal and that they are not alone. This book is an excellent resource for anyone involved in this difficult, but rewarding work and I hope it will become widely available to anyone who can benefit from it.” – Evelyn Cairns, Chaplain
“Derren and I read the book. I had it for a week before I could bring myself to read it. I had Derren sitting with me and we started to read it together but instead of ‘Rory’ we used ‘Robbie’. Derren and I cried together but we got through it and I am so happy we read it together, after we cried Derren opened up and started remembering all the good times he shared with Robbie. I have now put the book in Robbie’s memory box so his youngest sibling Craig can read it when he is old enough. Thank you everyone involved with Rory’s Star, it was simple and lovely.” – Carol Barnes, Parent and Grandparent.
Andrew’s Rainbow – for children who were born into the family after the death of a baby or young child.
Andrew’s Rainbow was developed following Rory’s Star when we realised that children born into a family following the death of their older sibling experience grief for this sibling they have never met. As they grow older and understand more about what happened they may have many questions about their big brother or sister. Andrew’s Rainbow was created after workshops we held with rainbow children. The story uses their words to help explain the many themes which they identified during the workshops. Families enrolled on our Next Infant Support Programme will receive a copy of Andrew’s Rainbow and it is available to purchase for our shop for other bereavement charities who wish to make it available to their families. Rainbow Clinics in hospital obstetric units are also purchasing the book for families having a rainbow baby. You can purchase a copy from our shop.
Childhood and Teenage Grief
When a child or teenager is grieving the death of their brother or sister, their grief may be expressed differently to that of an adult. This does not mean they are not feeling the same range of emotions. It is well understood that pre-school age children, primary school age children, teenagers and young adults grieve in different ways. They have different support needs too. Their grief will change as they mature and their understanding of what has happened changes over time.
If your family has come to the Trust looking for support, we will look for ways to support your other children too.
We recognise that to provide the best support for children we sometimes have to work with other organisations to put the best things in place for your child/ children. Information on some of the other organisations which we might discuss with you and ask permission to make a referral are included.
Seasons for Growth
This is a well-established programme run in most schools in Scotland to help children, aged 6 – 18 who are experiencing bereavement and loss. We can discuss with your child’s / children’s’ head teacher whether this is available at their school(s). This is an option where parents want some extra support for their child / children but do not feel that play therapy is needed.Seasons for Growth
An organisation based in Edinburgh and Glasgow who can take referrals for children aged 4 – 18 who have been bereaved. Children can meet in groups or one -to one with a support worker to work through a programme. We may make referral into this service if you request it. We have no control over the waiting times as the service is heavily subscribed.Richmonds Hope
Next Infant Support Programme
Help for bereaved families throughout future pregnancies and after the birth of a new babyNext Infant Support Programme