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Healing Broken Hearts

Welsh charity helping children deal with grief
Maya lost her dad Richard to cancer but discovered that she wasn't alone thanks to the incredible work of children's bereavement charity Sandy Bear

Maya Sonvico was just 12 years old when she lost her dad Richard to cancer. It shattered her world.

At a time when many of her friends were out playing and socialising, she found herself dealing with the trauma and grief of losing a parent.

Even with the incredible support of her mum, Karen, Maya was struggling to cope with how she was feeling and knowing her family was grieving too, "didn't want to burden them".

But Maya, from Pembrokeshire, discovered she was not alone thanks to the incredible work of Welsh children's bereavement charity Sandy Bear - an organisation supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery.

Maya said, "Sandy Bear gave me a place to talk about how I was feeling. I was seen as more than just a bereaved young person. At the same time, they helped me come to terms with how my life had changed and how to accept the loss of my dad."

The death of a loved one is heartbreaking at any time of life, but for a child it can be especially difficult.

Sandy Bear helps children and young people across Wales who have suffered or who are likely to suffer a bereavement, offering emotional and mental health support. Through talk and play, more than 2,000 children have benefited from its services to date.

Maya, now 30, says she turned to Sandy Bear in 2007 when she felt "a bit stuck" and was one of the first children to receive specialist support from the charity's healthcare professionals.

Maya explained, "Meeting other young people made me feel less alone and realise that the rollercoaster of emotions I was experiencing was perfectly normal. They helped me feel happy again, and that it was fine to laugh with friends too."

And now almost 20 years later, the support Maya received as a youngster has inspired her to help others facing similar trauma. She's now studying to become a counselling psychologist specialising in childhood bereavement and plays an active role as a charity ambassador for Sandy Bear.

Karen Codd, co-founder of the charity, said, "At Sandy Bear, we see children transformed from being timid and tearful to laughing and smiling again. It's an amazing feeling to see them flourish in our care."

Players of People's Postcode Lottery have been raising money to support Sandy Bear since 2021, enabling it to continue to reach young people facing the loss of a loved one.

Maya said, "Sandy Bear has been a huge influence on my life. The help they gave me is the main reason why I want to help other young people, just as Sandy Bear got me through such a sad time. Giving something back is a wonderful feeling."

Making A Difference

People's Postcode Lottery players are helping deserving causes like Sandy Bear make a difference every single day. Read more about the range of Charities that our players support.

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Published: 18/03/2024

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