Child Bereavement Support Worker Adam White explains:
‘We feel it’s so important to have options for children who perhaps aren’t yet confident enough to speak to others face-to-face, so we are really pleased to now offer the online forum. It provides a safe place for children and young people to talk to others who are in a similar situation, and share their experiences, feelings and memories with each other.
It was also really important for us to get input from our Youth Panel, a group of young volunteers, many of who have been service users themselves, as well as service users at our NJ clubs and residential weekends. They made sure the design and features are relevant to the young people who will be using the forum. It’s open to any young person who has been referred to Nelson’s Journey in the past and is still under 18, so please get in touch if you’d like to log in and have a look!’
Norwich-based web designers NeoOptic have given over £10,000 worth of work, free-of-charge, on creating and implementing the online forum ready for the launch. Founder of NeoOptic, Kristian Phillips told us ‘We have worked with Nelson’s Journey for many years and truly believe in the cause. We are proud to have supported Nelson’s Journey by giving up our time to build the new online Young People’s Forum, and we are really pleased with how it’s turned out. Being custom built, it is suitable for a range of users of different ages and is really user-friendly. I’m sure people will engage with it.
It’s been quite a long project in terms of development, with lots of adjustments and tweaks along the way, after feedback from the focus groups. However, I think it’s going to be a great resource and will allow the young people who use it to share with each other in a way they may not initially feel confident doing with the adult support staff at Nelson’s Journey.’
The forum, which is only available to those who have been referred to the charity for support, has a system which means that every comment is moderated before it appears on the forum. Adam explains: ‘Even though the Forum is only for children and young people referred to Nelson’s Journey, we wanted to make sure nothing that was hurtful or inappropriate was posted. Although this means the posts are not immediately shown, we hope the Forum provides a very different service to instant messaging, while keeping it a safe place.’
The forum will also have message boards and photos of other types of services that Nelson’s Journey provides, including the youth ‘NJ clubs’ that take place in 6 locations around the county, and the activity days and residential weekends held at Hilltop Outdoor Centre near Sheringham.
‘We are hoping this will encourage children who are not so confident about going to a club or on one of our weekends to see what to expect and to see other children, a similar age to themselves, having used these services, enjoyed them and felt the benefit of them. This is a great gateway for us in to helping those with low confidence get the help and support they need for their bereavement issues.’
Current service user Kyia, who is 15 years old from Caister, told us that the forum is very easy to use and will help other children and young people like herself to feel better about themselves and their feelings surrounding their bereavement ‘I felt better after using it. I said what I wanted to say and got it all off my chest. It helps a lot. Everyone knows what you’re going through on there.’
For more information about Nelson’s Journey, please visit their website at www.nelsonsjourney.org.uk.
About Nelsons Journey
During 2014, Nelson’s Journey saw an increase of nearly 20% in the demand for its service (a 25% increase was experienced in 2013). The Norfolk based charity believe this is largely down to local government funding cuts and scaling down of support services for these vulnerable individuals. During 2014 they received 596 referrals for bereaved children and young people needing support for bereavement issues.
Nelson’s Journey has been operating for 17yrs is a registered charity providing a service for children and young people aged 0-17 years inclusive, living in Norfolk, who have experienced the death of a significant person in their life. We aim to improve the emotional well being of bereaved children by: increasing their confidence and self belief, providing education about the causes of death, enabling families to talk openly about their bereavement. We also provide opportunities to remember those who have died and help children to express and understand their emotions.
Nelson’s Journey endeavours to ‘Bring back smiles to bereaved children’.
It is currently estimated that 1 in 29 school aged children have experienced the death of a parent or sibling, in Norfolk this equates to approximately 3,825 children. This figure is significantly higher when pre-school children and 17 year olds are included.