Who we are
East Kent Sands is run entirely by volunteers to support anyone in the area affected by the death of a baby. We run support groups in Ashford and Margate to which anyone is welcome and we work closely with the staff at the William Harvey Hospital (WHH) in Ashford and the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital (QEQM) in Margate. We supply them with information booklets and leaflets as well as memory boxes and other items including special heat key rings.
We have been working with the hospitals on the design of their bereavement suites. In both cases we are disappointed at the overall size of the areas which have limited the facilities, but we have been able to influence some of the design and the way they operate. We are also contributing towards the costs of these units and funded a 'makeover' of the WHH's temporary suite. At the QEQM we are helping develop a small garden area, which we are also funding.
We pay for some of the professional development of midwives and other staff through conferences and study days.
But a really big part of what we do is around raising awareness of stillbirths and neonatal deaths. In East Kent, on average there will be a stillbirth or neonatal death every five days, that is 70 families every year devastated by the death of a baby, affecting whole families and whole communities. We are there for everyone, no matter how recent, or how long ago.
We take part in national initiatives such as the '15 Babies a Day' campaign which drew attention to the alarming fact that on average 15 babies are dying each day. We created a clothes line with fifteen babygrows as a visual reminder of this stark fact. We also have our unique Ashford Baby Memorial Garden in Ashford town centre. This has been designed to be open to anyone and we welcome families with their children, or people just wanting to eat their sandwich. The garden has a special area where we have over 250 name stones, remembering some of our babies. These are available at a one-off cost of just £40. Our beautiful garden is open to all and is situation within the main Memorial Park.
East Kent Sands started in 2016, having previously been part of a Kent-wide group, where our main focus had been on creating our beautiful garden. We continue to work closely with other local Sands groups as part of a informal Kent and East Sussex network, and, of course, with other Sands groups and our Head Office colleagues. Brief profiles of our volunteers are on the 'about us' page. We are nearly all bereaved families ourselves but we welcome support from anyone interested in what we do. Time and energy is as welcome as money, so if you would like to find out more, please get in touch.