NOT many people know this but this is SANDS Awareness Month.
SANDS is a charity supporting parents who have suffered a stillbirth or neonatal death and it does amazing work and it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
In our home county Ayrshire SANDS has a base at the Crosshouse University Hospital and holds support meetings on the first Monday of every month (except January) in the Education Suite between 8pm and 10pm.
They say: "These meeting are to help anyone who had been involved with the loss of a baby.
"Whether you are a parent, grandparent, sibling, other family member, or a friend, you will find a warm welcome.
"The meetings are very informal, you do not have to stand up and introduce yourself, in fact you do not have to talk at all, if you do not want to.
"We also have the use of a small room at the end of the corridor, so if you would prefer somewhere quieter this can easily be arranged.
"If you would like to come to a meeting but don't want to walk in by yourself, we can arrange for someone to meet you at the unit entrance.
"And, if, at the last minute, you cannot come for what ever reason, please do not worry, we have all been in the same position and know how hard these steps are to take."
SANDS was set up by two bereaved mothers, Bel Mooney and Hazelanne Lewis, who found there was no support available for them following the deaths of their babies.
Realising there were many bereaved parents across the UK left similarly devastated and without support, they founded Sands in 1978.
At that time in the UK, most parents were not allowed to see, hold or bury their babies. No photographs were taken, and they could not put their baby’s name on the stillbirth certificate.
Since then, SANDS has grown into a national charity that supports anyone affected by the death of a baby.
Over time they have expanded the work they do to include working with healthcare professionals to improve the care parents receive when a baby dies.
And more recently they have developed a research fund to improve understanding of the causes of stillbirth and neonatal deaths and to reduce the baby death rate in the UK.
But there is more to do and they say: "By 2020 we aim to reduce the number of babies dying by at least 20%, and we urgently need to fund research to better understand what causes these deaths.
"We also want every bereaved parent to receive a free memory box to collect keepsakes to help them remember their precious baby."
If you would like to know more you can find the national charity here and you can contact the Ayrshire group by calling 01563 825402 or 07754397685.
* The Ayrshire group is holding a fund racing duck race at the Ford, Eglinton Park, Kilwinning on Saturday, June 16. Fun starts noon, Ducks set off at 2pm. There will also be a Bubble Blow to mark Baby Loss Awareness month before the duck race.
This is a family event with No admission fee, ducks are £1 each. Home baking, raffle, face painting and more.
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