Charity Awards 2024

St David’s Hospice Care

Delivering counselling for children facing the loss of a parent or other adult

Coping with the death of a loved one can be difficult for anyone, but children and young people can be irreparably affected by the loss of a key adult in their life.

St David's Hospice CareResearch shows that children left unsupported through bereavement have an increased likelihood of engaging in substance abuse, criminal behaviour, underachievement at school, and are at greater risk of depression.

St David’s Hospice in Wales sought to address the issue by creating the Unicorn Project in 2009. It supports children and young people who have been bereaved of a significant adult or where an adult in their lives is receiving palliative care at the hospice.

What the charity soon discovered was that the need for the service was far greater than it had anticipated.

In the project’s first year, it supported 97 children and young people. In 2021-22, it received 329 referrals and held 1,580 counselling sessions. Since 2009, it has supported 2,400 families.

St David’s Hospice said the service gives children the freedom to talk about their experience without judgement and in a confidential setting with someone detached from their immediate family.

Testimonials from families that used the service said their children seemed “more adjusted and happier” and “better at sharing their feelings” afterwards.

Some 86% of families rated the service five out of five in how successful it was in meeting their expectations, with the remaining 14% rating it a three or four.

Charity Awards judge Martin Edwards said: “The sheer volume that they’re doing is extraordinary – nearly 1,600 sessions in a 12-month period. That’s a heck of a lot of counselling for one hospice to do.”

Judge Sharika Sharma said it was a strong application from a charity that had identified and filled a gap in service provision locally.

CC Reg no. 1010576