Celebrations for 20 years of children's bereavement charity
TALKING about grief can be a difficult task for adults.
But for the last two decades, a Cheltenham-based organisation has been giving support to young people and their families as they come to terms with bereavement.
During the last 20 years, pioneering charity Winston's Wish has grown from strength to strength.
It brought together 60 supporters and staff to celebrate its 20th birthday this week at its new premises in Clarence Street.
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Cheltenham Mayor Colin Hay and newly-appointed police and crime commissioner, Martin Surl, raised glasses to the cause.
It came just a day after the House of Lords played host to a low-key event for the much loved charity.
Chief executive Fiona Talwar-Lomberg, said: "It's a mazing. From its point of establishment as a county service, and its switch from the NHS to a charity in its own right, it has grown massively."
Children are encouraged to speak openly about loss, both in one-on-one sessions and as a family unit, understand that it is okay to be angry or upset, but not to feel guilty when happy, and eventually meet and relate to other bereaved young ones who have had similar experiences.
Central to the service was being able to talk about grief, said Fiona.
"You're not going to make it worse by speaking about it, because the worst has happened.
"It's about finding the way – whatever that is – for a family to talk about and remember that person, and how we support those feelings, so they can look forward in life."
Just 12 members of staff work from Winston's Wish's two bases in Cheltenham and West Sussex.
And the charity is already planning for the next 20 years.
It is embarking on a programme called Switch, funded by the Big Lotto, which has them travelling out to schools to "raise awareness of the risks of unsupported grief," said Fiona.
"It's really humbling. So many people have come together to improve children's lives, it gives me faith," she said.
"It's tough out there at the moment, which is why we're hoping to join up with other services.
"It's inspirational work. It keeps you grounded."