Support for Bereaved Children

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 14 September 2023.

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Photo of Christine Jardine Christine Jardine Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Women and Equalities), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 2:15, 14 September 2023

I beg to move,

That this House
calls on the Government to develop a protocol for ensuring that bereaved children are made aware of and have access to practical and emotional support through public and third sector agencies.

I thank the Backbench Business Committee and everyone who supported my application.

I have a jigsaw puzzle at home that my sisters recently had made for me for a big birthday. It is an old photograph of the family at Christmas, when they were just seven and 12—it was the last Christmas before dad died. They did not have to explain to me why they had chosen that picture, as I knew from the moment I unwrapped the present. There is an unspoken bond between the three us, and with our mum when she was alive, and that bond is understood by families all over this country.

I have an interest to declare, of course, as I am both an adult who was bereaved as a child and the mother of a bereaved child. Every day, more children in this country experience what we experienced when our lives were turned upside down. The trauma of losing a loved one—not just a parent but a loved one—is often sudden and inexplicable. Every 20 minutes a parent dies in this country, and around 127 children are bereaved every day, but that figure is only for parents, and I say “only” advisedly. We do not have figures for the number of children who lose grandparents, siblings or friends, all of which are traumatic losses for a young person.