"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."

National Sands

Sands is a national charity that supports anyone affected by the death of a baby and promotes research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives. It was founded in 1978 by a small group of bereaved parents devastated by the death of their babies.

Sands has 3 core aims, which are to:

  • Support anyone affected by the death of a baby.
  • Work in partnership with health professionals to improve the quality of care and services offered to bereaved families.
  • Promote research and changes in practice that could help to reduce the loss of babies' lives.

Nationally, Sands supports over 4,000 families every year through a national helpline, a UK network of parent led support groups and befrienders, a website www.uk-sands.org, plus support leaflets and publications.

Support groups in our area

Our regional groups are here to provide support to anyone affected by the loss of a baby and meet once a month to share individual stories and provide support to one another. Details of the monthly meetings can be found on our Home page. There is one meeting in Hull on the first Wednesday of every month.

The two groups and their three trained befrienders, who are all bereaved parents, work closely with each other to offer support to other bereaved parents in the local area. All of the befrienders can talk to you on the phone, regardless of whether you live in Hull or East Yorkshire and you can find their contact details on our Contact page.

They can also visit you in your own home if you so wish or they are available on email or via text messages.  They also attend the monthly meetings.  They have all gone through the Sands befriender training programme, and all work on a voluntary basis.

The two groups also work closely with the midwives at Hull Women & Children’s labour ward to ensure that care offered to bereaved parents is constantly reviewed and adjusted as necessary. The groups also provide the hospital with various items to help bereaved parents in the early days such as a digital camera, memory cards for the camera, bedding, candles etc., with money raised or donated to Sands.

Both groups also organise various fundraising events, details of which can be found under the Events section.

Below is a little information about each of the local groups and their founders.

Our befrienders

The Hull Sands Group is a regional branch of Sands, which was founded by Maggie Simkiss in 1993 in memory of her son, Kieran. Maggie remains one of the befrienders in the group to this date. Maggie works with Grace Gorski and Gemma Young.

After the loss of her daughter Rosie at 29 weeks, a lady from Sands contacted Grace Gorski and she found it so helpful to speak to someone who really understood the indescribable feelings of grief she and her family had. Since then, Grace has found such comfort, support and friendship by meeting others affected by baby loss and attending Sands meetings. Five years on, she felt ready to give something back, so has trained to be a befriender and joined Hull and East Yorkshire Sands in 2015.

Our work locally

We operate in various ways in Hull and East Yorkshire which you can read about below.

All our committee members are volunteers and as such are unpaid and so all donations received go directly towards our work.

Locally, we:

  • offer monthly support meetings but also offer telephone, email and one to one support;
  • offer bi-monthly support meetings for bereaved parents who are expecting or have a baby post loss and struggling with their conflicting emotions;
  • work with local professionals to improve bereavement care locally and play an active part in the local “Reducing stillbirth” meetings;
  • organise two memorial service each year, one on Father’s Day and one close to Christmas;
  • organise a Christmas party for children who have lost a sibling through stillbirth or neonatal death;
  • pay for regular bereavement care training for health professionals, including midwives and consultants who work at Hull Women & Children Hospital as well as a multi-disciplinary teams from a wider range of services, such as PND support, health visitors etc who may come in contact with bereaved families;
  • pay for bereavement care training for all final year University of Hull midwifery students;
  • fund places for the local bereavement midwife and her team at the annual Uncertainty and Loss in Maternity and Neonatal care conference;
  • fund places for the local bereavement midwife and her team at MBRRACE (Mothers and Babies: Reducing risk through audits & confidential enquiries across the UK) conferences;
  • pay for and organise small knitted nests and outfits for babies who are too small for moses baskets and newborn baby clothes;
  • provide new, much more modern, blessing cards for use by the chaplain in the Hospital.
Our current initiatives are:
  • refurbishing the second bereavement room in Hull Women & Children's Hospital with new bed, bedside cabinets, mattress and further bedding to bring it in line with the refurbishment of the main bereavement room completed in 2015; 
  • providing further bereavement care training to professionals in our area and also to midwifery students in their final year at Hull University;
  • looking at creating a memorial garden in the grounds of Hull Women & Children’s Hospital.
  • provide Hull Women & Children’s Hospital with a library of bereavement care training and support material.
We have completed the following initiatives over the last three years:
  • campaigned to get the local NHS Trust to employ a dedicated bereavement midwife and won their backing after an 18 month long process. The bereavement midwife started her role in February 2017;
  • paid for bereavement care training courses for midwives, consultants at Hull Women & Children's Hospital in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and 2017;
  • provided bereavement care training to 3rd year midwifery students at Hull University in 2015, 2016 and 2017;
  • funded 20 midwives to attend the "Uncertainty and Loss in Maternity and Neonatal care conference in September 2016;
  • paid for befriender training for three bereaved parents in the last three years who have asked to join our committee and befriending team and are now one of our team offering support in our area through our Sands group;
  • refurbished the bereavement room in Hull Women & Children's Hospital with new bed, bedside cabinets, mattress and further bedding;
  • created a "Making memories" poster for both bereavement rooms at the Hospital;
  • paid for bereavement care training to doulas across Hull in March 2015;
  • opened a baby memorial garden at Endsleigh Centre in Hull (sadly this is having to be relocated at present due to the Centre announcing closure - please see our website or Facebook page for any updates on relocation);
  • provided new bedding, memory cards for digital cameras, kettle, crockery for use in the bereavement room at Hull Women & Children's Hospital;
  • raced baby’s ashes for parents who did not know what happened to their baby’s ashes and supported the parents through this emotional journey;
  • paid for bereavement care training for 20 midwives, consultants at Hull Women & Children's Hospital in the autumn of 2014;
  • support Abbie's Fund through an annual donation for two years;
  • paid for all clay kits within the Abbie's Fund memory boxes which are given to Hull Women & Children's Hospital in 2014 and partly 2015. In discussions with Abbie's Fund this has now ceased so as to maximise the money spent locally by the two charities working together to support bereaved parents. This may commence again in the future if Abbie's Fund requires our financial support.
  • Thank you for your continued support. If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see happen locally, please contact us on admin@hull-sands.org.uk.