Petals was founded in 2011 by Karen Burgess, our Chief Executive. Originally working as a counsellor within the NHS in Cambridge, Karen witnessed first-hand how critical her specialist counselling work was for bereaved parents. So when the funding for her role was cut, she was determined to keep it going.
And so Petals – which originally stood for Pregnancy Expectations Trauma and Loss Society – was born. Since achieving charity status in 2013, the service has grown to the size it is today, with aspirations to expand nationwide.
Aching Arms is a charity that gives its comfort bears to hospitals and hospices, for midwives and nurses to offer to bereaved parents in their care. Along with the bears, we also offer a support service to parents after their loss, whether it was during pregnancy, at birth or soon after.
As well as giving out our bears through our health professional partners, we donate bears to other organisations who support families after baby loss at any stage of pregnancy. We currently work with over 160 hospitals in the UK, as well as an increasing number of hospices, support groups and funeral directors. We also send bears to families who contact us to request one.
In the UK, around 3,000 babies are stillborn each year and thousands more parents experience early and late miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, termination for medical reasons, neonatal death and loss through separation from their baby. There are an enormous number of families affected by the loss of a baby and others who face infertility after a loss, and/or loss after successful fertility treatment. Aching Arms, which began as a small grassroots charity, has seen demand for its service double in the last 12 months. Last year we donated over 5,000 bears to bereaved families.
Aching Arms has recently extended it services and now offers direct support to parents via our Supporting Arms support service, a telephone and email support service which is run by bereaved parents. The service offers families the chance to talk to someone who has an understanding of what they’re going through and helps them feel they’re not alone. For further details of the service please visit the Supporting Arms page.
Aching Arms is raising awareness of the impact of pregnancy and baby loss and we work hard with other organisations and groups to increase understanding of the life changing and long-term effect of baby loss. We are very active in advocating improvement in bereavement care in both health settings and the workplace. To this end, the charity has developed and runs training for health professionals, employers and people managers.
If you’d like to support the work that we do, either as a fundraiser, a corporate partner or if you want to help raise awareness or volunteer, please get in touch