Minister meets the challenge of charity expansion

Rev Liz Henderson with Richmond’s Hope Glasgow office manager Suzanne Laporte

Rev Liz Henderson founded the Richmond’s Hope charity helping children cope with bereavement from her church in Edinburgh’s Craigmillar. After 15 years building a successful independent charity which is now recognised as one of Scotland’s leading practitioners in this area, this year they took the brave step of expanding the service to Glasgow.Here, Liz explains the wobbles and doubts which invariably accompany the birth of any new venture before the project comes together.

Sometimes I wonder, “Why did we start this?” That was me in the middle of last year wading through emails on the computer and files called ‘Glasgow’, ‘funding’, ‘Ibrox Parish Church’ and ‘Business Plan’.I was asking myself “Why on earth did we decide to open another child bereavement service in Glasgow?”

We had reached a point in Richmond Craigmillar Church in Edinburgh where the Child Bereavement Charity that we started fourteen years ago had come of age. It is confident and professional,and most importantly the young people themselves are constantly telling us it has made a difference to them.We have a brilliant management team who came from our local community but they were standing in front of me in June of last year saying, “Why did we start this?”

2016 was dominated by waiting for grant applications to come through, Presbytery to say we could go ahead and builders to find their way to the site.At the end of the year it feels so much better. At Ibrox Parish Church, we’ve built two new playrooms at the back of the sanctuary and an office in a nearby corridor. They look fabulous.What is better still is that at the end of November the first bereaved children came and started through play to tell the story of their loss.Over the next eight to twelve weeks they will be helped to look at their feelings and talk about their memories and find ways of coping.

Margaret, an elder in Ibrox, said “Isn’t it wonderful that our church which has always been a place of sanctuary, will now be a safe place for bereaved children and young people!”And I begin to remember why all of the people who make up our church are so passionate about the work that Richmond’s Hope does day to day.

We know that we can’t turn back the clock because the worst thing has already happened.We will never be able to make it better but we do know that the skilled staff that we employ can help children to find ways of telling them what it is like for them.Donna, one of our managers, told me that one of the many tools that they use is a ceramic tile.The young person gets to smash it and then they spend time talking and reassembling the pieces.Like our lives following a bereavement the tile will never be the same again but the young person creates something new out of the broken pieces.

So as I look ahead to 2017, I know that there will be young people now in Glasgow as well as Edinburgh who will be brave enough to confront their loss and supported to slowly find a way of picking up the pieces, taking time to look at them, placing them, picking them up again and replacing them.And now I know that’s exactly why we started it!

Find out more information about Richmond’s Hope