This Blog originally appeared on the Protection Review Blog on  24/07/15

I was fortunate to be invited to represent Winston’s Wish (the charity for bereaved children) at the recent Protection Review Conference, on 15 July, at The Landmark Hotel. Gary Shaugnessy, CEO UK Life, Zurich, quoted Winston Churchill in his closing presentation – a quote I am sure you are all familiar with:

“If I had my way, I would write the word ‘insure’ upon the door of every cottage and upon the blotting book of every public man, because I am convinced, for sacrifices so small, families and estates can be protected against catastrophes which would otherwise smash them up forever.”

This resonated with me – not only because of our charity’s connection to Winston Churchill – but because it aptly reflects the synergy between the protection sector and Winston’s Wish. A synergy realised through some pro-bono consultancy Winston’s Wish received from Pricewaterhouse Coopers in 2013. This led to the recognition that life cover goes beyond financial support, making it a more customer-centric, saleable product in an extremely competitive market.

Our connection to Winston Churchill took root when clinical psychologist, Julie Stokes OBE, visited the USA and Canada on a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship. Inspired by the services she saw, Julie set up Winston’s Wish in 1992. This was the first childhood bereavement charity in the UK. Today we are the largest provider of services to bereaved children and their families in the UK and are the only specialist provider of support for children bereaved through homicide, suicide and death in military service.

The death of a parent or sibling is one of the most fundamental and devastating losses a child will ever face. Studies show that if childhood grief is not dealt with appropriately it can have a deep and lasting effect on a child’s emotional wellbeing and cause problems later in life.

The Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) annual report 2012[1] emphasised that events that occur in early life affect health and wellbeing in later life. It says: ‘We know that in straitened financial times it is challenging to identify resources to allocate upstream – that is before problems have developed. It is hard to balance the need to respond to the pressures of the here and now with the evidence that we should be investing in the future: children and young people. The evidence base increasingly suggests that failure to invest does not make economic sense.’

Evidence of the cost-benefits of child bereavement services is being gathered to illustrate the kinds of savings that can be made to the budgets of the NHS, schools, social work and the youth/criminal justice system.

The CMO report also highlights the need to support children to build emotional resilience and through better communication – to be equipped to deal with life’s inevitable challenges. The need to build emotional resilience and communicate well is at the core of the bereavement support programme offered by Winston’s Wish.

Our charity has worked hard to raise awareness of our services within the life protection sector and we are proud of our growing portfolio of partnerships, which currently includes longstanding partners Ellipse and AIG Life, along with Havensrock Life (PSHPC), SunLife AXA, London & Country Mortgages, Financial Associates and Family Insurance Services (Assured Futures). Each partnership is slightly different to reflect the needs of the company and what is mutually beneficial for each party.

Winston’s Wish has the long-term vision of becoming the industry recognised charity affiliated with life insurance products. All of our partners champion this vision and have all been instrumental in raising our profile within the sector, as well as providing vital funding and contributions which help to sustain the work of our charity and enable us to extend our services and reach more bereaved children and families.

I was personally humbled by the recognition of Winston’s Wish with all I spoke with at Protection Review.

Rachel Noble
Partnerships Assistant

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