Our team of Grief Support Workers are a multi-skilled group of individuals who are dedicated to providing a proficient, flexible and community-based support programme, for grieving children, young people and their families.

Our philosophy is to advocate the importance of openness, truthfulness and involvement around death in order for families to function at their best ability. We assist age-appropriate and productive communication between carers and the young people they support through an array of services.

Our Grief Support Workers are volunteers who, after completing the Balloons bereavement training, give up their time for free to support children and young people.  Below are testimonials from some of our volunteers which demonstrate their varied ages, skills and backgrounds to show that there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ volunteer.

Annie Bigwood

Having moved down to the South Hams in Autumn 2014 I was looking forward to making new friends and enjoying all that living in the country has to offer. After a while I realised I missed working with children which I had done for nearly twenty years mainly in Children’s Services as part of Southampton Psychology Service and latterly with Looked After Children. I absolutely love working with children and young people. It is something I seem to be good at and get a huge amount of satisfaction from. I looked online for some charity work where I could use the skills I have acquired. Balloons looked like the best in the area. I did my training about a year ago and started in schools in September. So far I have worked on pre and post bereavement cases in Newton Abbot in homes and schools. I have found all the GSWs to be lovely people, a diverse bunch which all have one thing in common – to help children and young people to come to terms with the death of a loved one. Balloons has given me a new focus and I have met some wonderful people some of whom have become friends.

Sophie Kerr

I decided to take the plunge and train as a grief support worker with Balloons last September and from the moment I first contacted them it’s been a joy.   The training (eight days spread over two months) was an intense and fascinating experience in the company of a dozen or so of the most remarkable people I’ve met for a long time.  As for the children I’ve worked with, they’ve been an inspiration.  To walk a little way along the road with a young person at what will probably be the most difficult time of their life can be profoundly rewarding and often feels like a great privilege.  Yes, it does sometimes get tough, but when it does the staff at Balloons are always there to offer their wisdom, their support and their unfailing good humour.   I can only say that if your working week allows you the time to do it, and if you want to do something that is enriching, challenging and utterly amazing, sign up for the training as soon as you can.  

Sandra Laslett

Now retired from the MoD, I did my training in 2015 and started working with Balloons last autumn. I am working with children in the Exeter area. My initial aim when volunteering to work with Balloons was to try to help at least one child to have a better experience than me when losing a parent. Married, with two grown-up children and two grandchildren, I live in Kenton. I love learning new things and am certainly learning a lot with Balloons!