Published 20 April 2023

Children and young people experiencing bereavement will benefit from updated and enhanced support at West Dunbartonshire schools.

A range of initiatives are in place for any pupil grieving the loss of a loved one and this will be supplemented further following a motion at a recent Council meeting.

The support will be in addition to the Seasons for Growth approach, currently available within the area’s schools, which provides emotional and psychological resilience as part of the universal curriculum, while offering more targeted support for those who need it.

This includes small group loss and grief education groups which look at change, loss and bereavement and how to respond and adapt using different techniques including discussion, art, journaling and drama.

The small groups are run by two specially-trained members of staff and aim to offer ongoing peer support to children who are experiencing similar difficulties to each other.

Across the area more than 100 members of staff are trained under Seasons for Growth, with additional training delivered at least three times per year.

The motion brought forward by Councillor Sophie Traynor, lost her own mum at the age of 16, received cross-party support.

Depute Council Leader Councillor and Convener of Health and Social Care partnership, Michelle McGinty, who supported Councillor Traynor’s motion, said: “Losing a parent at any time is extremely difficult but even more so as a young person, so extended support with grieving is vitally important.

“I am grateful to Councillor Traynor for raising this issue, drawing on her personal experience, and happy to hear that our educational service is looking at different ways in which they can expand Seasons for Growth and ensure that their comprehensive support package is available for all.”

Councillor Traynor added:  “Grief is a complex experience for anyone, especially for a child or young person experiencing the death of someone close to them.

“It comes in waves, often when you least expect it, so it’s important that support for grieving is available on an ongoing basis and can be accessed as and when it is needed most.

“I was really touched that my motion was so well received by my colleagues and pleased that it will lead to an enhanced universal bereavement policy which sees grieving children and young people receive the same support for as long as they need it.”