An Aberdeen charity offering support to parents who have lost a child is appealing for volunteers to expand its vital service.
Abi Clarke set up Miss (Miscarriage Information Support Service) in 2017, after she had a miscarriage two years earlier and was left unsure of where to find help and advice.
Over the last four years, the charity has grown to offer multiple groups and services – becoming a pillar of emotional support for thousands of bereaved parents in the north-east.
Its volunteers staff a dedicated helpline for people requiring someone to talk to, and supply memory boxes and comfort packs to others experiencing pregnancy loss.
Now, Mrs Clarke is hoping to expand her organisation with a new team of volunteers to offer “much-needed” support to families in Inverness and Peterhead as well.
She said: “What we’ve been trying to do over the last few years is to raise more awareness, to offer support and really explain what miscarriage is and how people can cope with it after and move forward.
“Miscarriage is still a very taboo subject and one of our aims is to really remove that stigma behind it, so that people are more open to talk about it and share their emotions.
“We are now looking for volunteers in Inverness and Peterhead to provide that much-needed support in those areas as well.
“The roles of the volunteers will be to help with preparing the memory boxes, set up support groups – whether online or face to face – and really just raise awareness and share our message.”
Creating memories for bereaved parents
As well as providing a 24-hour phone service, Miss also supplies around 60 memory boxes for early pregnancy loss to Aberdeen Maternity Hospital on a monthly basis.
These boxes are to provide support and create memories for bereaved parents and include items such as flower seeds, a candle, a knitted white heart, a teddy bear and a scanned photo of their baby.
The charity has recently launched an appeal for people who can sow or knit to help with making a white teddy bear for the memory boxes.
Mrs Clarke added: “We launched the memory boxes in November last year and although it’s a relatively new service, the response so far has been very positive.
“We have also been speaking to Peterhead hospital and Inverness Raigmore hospital and they are very interested in receiving these boxes as well, so that’s another great way to expand in these areas.
“We are also asking people who can sow or knit to help us with the boxes by making a white teddy bear to go with the other items.
“We give approximately 60 of these memory boxes to Aberdeen Maternity Hospital, however if anyone can help with just ten – would be much appreciated.”
Throughout the pandemic, the charity has continued to provide its vital service and has been offering support to bereaved parents through online meetings and one-to-one sessions.
‘Nothing beats a hug and meeting a friend face-to-face’
In light of the easing of coronavirus restrictions, Miss has now relaunched their face-to-face support groups for the first time since March last year.
The informal meetings will be held every Thursday evening in their new office in Cove, Aberdeen.
Mrs Clarke said the return to face-to-face support groups will make a big difference to couples, who have had to go through the “traumatic experience” of miscarriage during the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “It’s really good that we can finally get back to in-person support groups and really be able to support our new and existing members.
“Miscarriage itself is a very traumatic experience, never mind adding on Covid and all the restrictions in place – they’re not able to meet their friends, ask them around for a cup of tea and share what they’re going through and how they are actually feeling.
“There’s definitely been an increase in the numbers of members over the last year and I think part of this has been because they have struggled with their miscarriage during Covid.
“We’re lucky to have Zoom and phone calls, but having that contact and being able to give someone a hug and just sit down and talk to them in person goes a long way.
“Being together in a room, where we can openly speak and share our experiences, really makes a big difference and helps our members feel supported.”
Anyone, who would like to help Miss with the memory boxes by making a teddy bear, can get in touch by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.