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Heather heads up helpline to lend helping hand at Winston’s Wish

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Winston’s Wish, the leading childhood bereavement charity in the UK, is excited to welcome Heather Danson to the team, developing the charity’s Helpline service for anyone concerned about a bereaved child.


Heather, originally from Inverness, joins the Winston’s Wish team which currently support over 40,000 bereaved children and their families each year through an array of services – of which the Helpline is often the first point of contact.

Heather will bring a wealth of experience in child support to the charity, with an extensive and varied background in the charity sector.

She joins Winston’s Wish from Infobuzz, a Gloucestershire-based charity providing support for vulnerable young people and their families. Previously, Heather worked at Barnardos in a school liaison and parental support role, working with a range of challenging childhood circumstances.

Having worked with children demonstrating difficult behaviours and poor relationships with drugs, alcohol and family, Heather is also experienced in speaking to children suffering a bereavement. Her consultancy work has seen her assist school staff across the county with guidance for children and young people, including a package on bereavement, produced by Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning (formerly known as Healthy Schools Partnership).

Heather has direct experience of Helpline operation, having operated the Samaritans front-line. In fact, Heather has volunteered with the Samaritans for over 25 years and is Branch Chair in Cheltenham.

Her role as Helpline Coordinator will develop the Winston’s Wish service and continue to ensure anyone contacting the charity receives the support they need. Currently, around 55% of calls come from family members and 45% from professionals seeking advice and guidance.

Heather commented:

“I have a lot of contacts in the charitable sector and every single person speaks about Winston’s Wish in such high regard. I am delighted to join such a fantastic organisation and excited to extend our support to children experiencing different forms of bereavement”.

Suzie Phillips, Clinical Services Development Team Leader, echoes the charity’s delight in having Heather on board. She added:

“People call the Winston’s Wish Helpline to discuss a huge range of concerns and questions from: ‘Why does my daughter keep asking where daddy is when he died two months ago?’ and ‘He wants to attend the funeral but his dad says he’s too young. What do you think?’ to ‘I’m concerned about a child I’m working with. What is the best way to offer support?’

We’re delighted that Heather has joined us and can use her expertise to help us continue improving this vital service and offer the best, most specialist support possible.

If a young person you know is finding it hard to cope with their grief, and you want to help them, then give Winston’s Wish a call”.

Winston’s Wish helps children and young people rebuild their lives after the death of their mum, dad, brother or sister, enabling them to face the future with confidence and hope.

The Winston’s Wish Helpline is a UK-wide national helpline offering support, information and guidance to all those caring for a child or young person who has been bereaved. It is staffed by people with extensive experience, who have up-to-date knowledge of supporting bereaved children and their families. The line is open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm and Wednesdays 7pm to 9.30 pm. For more information, see www.winstonswish.org.uk/helpline/.

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