Our new research and campaign
Support 100% of families who lose a child
A research report commissioned by Leeds Elliot’s Footprint, has found that only 16% of professionals think that child bereavement support in Leeds is effective and 100% of bereaved families find the current service unsuitable for their needs.
The findings are announced to coincide with the launch of a petition by us urging the UK Government to give 100% of Leeds parents adequate support
following the sudden death of a child. We are appealing to Leeds residents and MPs to back our important petition (due to be confirmed by the Government) which requires 10,000 signatures to be considered in Parliament.
The research study, which we will release in full in early December, revealed that over
half of professionals in Leeds do not know who coordinates child bereavement services in
the city and almost half of professionals saw the need for one single organisation to
coordinate it. Access to communication (42%) and lack of knowledge (22%) were identified
as the biggest gaps in child bereavement support.
Elliot’s Footprint was set up by Andrea and John Kerslake in 2014 following the sudden and
unexpected death of their son Elliot, aged just two and a half years old. The Kerslakes were
left alone, like many Yorkshire families, to come to terms with their devastating loss and try
to raise their remaining two children without any appropriate professional support or
guidance, an experience which intensified their grief and led them to vow to support others in
the same situation.
Our founder and Elliot’s Mum, Andrea Kerslake, explains; “Elliot was such a happy little
soul, he loved life and was full of energy. He gave so much love to us, and his brother and
sister, and brought so much joy to all that knew him. Our healthy, happy little boy went from
playing and running around in the morning to being taken to hospital in an ambulance in the
afternoon. Elliot went to slept that afternoon showing no signs of illness, yet he never woke up. Suddenly, we were thrown into a whole new world of intense devastation, filled withimmense pain and heartbreak.”
Overwhelmed with grief, Andrea and John found themselves thrust into a system of legal
and professional processes that they neither understood, nor felt a part of. They left hospital
that day with just an advice leaflet in their hands – the first thing Andrea read was ‘sorry your
baby/child has died’. They felt completely alone, dealing with the distress of never seeing
their beautiful boy again and no guidance as to how they were supposed to support Elliot’s
siblings, Emily and Oliver, in their grief.
They were referred for counselling. It took six weeks on the waiting list and was insufficient
for their needs - they needed support, not advice on ‘how to relax’. Their GP called to say
they could see her at any point without appointment. They went, she said she had looked
and couldn’t offer any type of support, because it wasn’t there. Their friends were their main
network of support.
John Kerslake, Elliot's Dad, added "Our friends, family and colleagues have got us through
this, they've held us together during the depths of despair. The lack of accessible,
professional bereavement support has made the worst possible situation parents can ever
endure so much more unbearable. Elliot’s Footprint, along with other Yorkshire charities, are
campaigning for better bereavement services to ensure that no other parents have to face
the devastation of losing their child alone”.
Determined to channel their grief into helping other families, Andrea and John set up Elliot’s
Footprint. We strive to secure a dedicated family bereavement service in West
Yorkshire, campaigning for changes to improve a system that is failing families when they
need it the most.
Andrea adds; “This report has proven that the current system is failing bereaved families,
who just like us, are left to cope with the sudden loss of their child alone. It has confirmed a
very serious need for immediate, intensive and family-centred support for bereaved families.
We hope that Leeds residents and MPs will come together to sign this important petition.
“Nothing will ever heal our pain but it brings us some comfort to know that Elliot’s short life
might inspire positive change to ensure that in the future, no more families are left alone to
cope with unimaginable grief.”