Rowans Meerkat Service provides specialist support to children and young people who have a significant adult (such as a parent or grandparent), with a life-limiting illness or, who have been bereaved of an adult close to them. We work alongside families with children up to the age of 18.
Children have the capacity to cope well with loss providing they have the right support. However, sometimes it can be difficult for family members to provide this; the balance of wanting to protect children and knowing the ’right’ thing to say can feel impossible at times.
There are a variety of ways Rowans Meerkat Service can support families through their child’s bereavement, depending on each child’s individual needs. This includes guidance to parents/guardians, advice to schools and other agencies, and when appropriate, individual therapeutic work with children. Groups are available throughout the year for children who have been bereaved.
Our Meerkat Service is able to accept referrals where a family is currently receiving or has previously received care from the Rowans Hospice Charity.
If you would like to speak to someone from the Meerkat Service, please call them on 023 9224 8025.
When Amelia was 12 years old her Dad, Brian, was diagnosed with Cancer, he underwent treatment in hospital, and managed to spend one last Christmas with the family, however shortly afterwards he died. Amelia was introduced to Sophie from the Meerkat Service who would visit Amelia’s house for one to one bereavement support where they would do a variety of activities such a colouring or making sand jars filled with Amelia’s favourite memories of her Dad. These sessions were an informal way for Amelia’s to talk about her thoughts and feelings.
The Meerkat Service also runs group sessions which Amelia went along to. Here she met other children who were also bereaved. Amelia told us that through the group sessions she made lots of friends and was able to talk about her Dad with other children who had been through the same thing, which was really helpful.
An opportunity arose for a number of ‘Meerkats’ to help create a video, which would be used to help other bereaved children know they are not alone. Amelia volunteered to tell her story on camera because she wanted to help other children who were going through what she had.
It was from working on the video that Amelia discovered her passion for supporting other children who were bereaved and became a valued Meerkat Mentor (a young person who has been bereaved and helps facilitate group sessions and events as well as comes up with new ideas for the service). Amelia told us that she knew from her own experience that sometimes children don’t want to talk to other adults, so thought it may easier for children to connect with her as she was younger and understood what they were going through.
As Amelia grew up and started thinking about college and university she knew that working in Bereavement Support for children was going to be particularly important to her because of losing her father as a child and how if it wasn’t for the support she received from the Rowans Hospice Charity, she believes she would have struggled ‘to come to terms with the death of [her] father’.
Amelia enrolled at University to study Social Work and now aged 21 she has just graduated with a Batchelor of Science with Honours in Social Work. Amelia is taking a well-earned break from studying, however will be looking for a post as a Social Worker and aims to move into bereavement support services for children in the future.
“Needless to say the Meerkat Service Team are super proud of Amelia and all that she has achieved. We all endeavour to make a positive difference for every child who comes through our ‘Meerkat door’ in the hope they can continue to live happy and fulfilled lives. Knowing that Amelia has chosen a career where she too, is undoubtedly going to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children is truly wonderful.” Sophie De Bere – Meerkat Service Lead.
Our ‘Small Book of Big Conversations’ offers guidance to parents/guardians supporting bereaved children through serious illness and into bereavement.
You can download a PDF copy of this booklet here:Download
We have a twice yearly newsletter for children called ‘Meerkat Mail’, which offers a chance for children to give their experience of loss so that other readers know they are not alone.
You can download the most recent editions below.