Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cash crisis threatens baby death charity

A CHARITY which helps grieving parents through the death of a baby or miscarriage faces closure amid a new cash crisis.

Sands Lothian has just £10,000 left and expects to shut down in March or April if new supporters are not found.

The 24-hour service is a lifeline to parents suffering after a bereavement and its closure would be a huge loss.

It has suffered financial problems in the past but was recently boosted by funding from organisations including Lloyds TSB and the Robertson Trust.

However, those three-year funding streams have now come to an end and Sands Lothian, which costs about £60,000-a-year to run, has just months to find new backers or close.

Dorothy Maitland, operations manager at the charity, said: "I've restructured everything to try and save money, including cutting wages, but we are down to our last £10,000 in the bank. It's a constant struggle.

"I've got 13 grant applications in the pipeline. Two said they will not fund us and others are not meeting until the spring or even summer.

"We can only last for three or maybe four months."

She added: "Our service is unique. The very fact that two of us who work there have had babies who died means people who come speak to others who have gone through similar experiences.

"We are well established and GPs and social workers are always calling us up with new appointments.

"We are a lifeline for people coping with a bereavement. Friends and family can be very supportive but because they've not been through it they don't know the impact it can have."

Sands Lothian estimates it helps about 15 women a week from across the Lothians, and has more than 600 on its books.

It has been backed by illustrious supporters, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The then-Chancellor and his wife Sarah, who lost their first child, Jennifer Jane, in 2002, donated a bottle of House of Commons whisky, signed by Mr Brown, to be auctioned in aid of the charity.

Scots TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, who suffered a miscarriage, also donated one of her outfits to the auction, which was held at the Roxburghe Hotel.

'The shock never subsided'
PAM ALLEN, 25, of Pencaitland, contacted Sands Lothian after her second child, Carys, was stillborn after 36 weeks in March last year.

She was traumatised not only by the death of her daughter but also by having to spend days with elated new parents in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary's maternity ward.

She said: "My husband Derek and I just fell to pieces. Nearly two years later the shock has never really subsided. It seemed unbelievable to get so far into pregnancy - you think you've passed the worst and everything is going to be OK. It just shows that's not necessarily the case."

As well as support and counselling, she found some members of staff at Sands Lothian had been through similar experiences.

"It's so comforting at Sands because they know exactly how you are feeling," said Mrs Allen, who has two sons - Dylan, four, and nine-month-old Josh. "They know what to say and how to say it."

Source: http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1931352007

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