Parents of tragic Leeds toddler in bereavement support plea

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The parents of a toddler who died suddenly have called for child bereavement support to be provided in Leeds after new research identified severe gaps in help.

John and Andrea Kerslake, of Shadwell, launched child bereavement charity Elliot’s Footprint after finding there was no support following the death of their two-and-a-half-year-old son Elliot, who died in his sleep in March 2013.

New research, which was conducted by health and social care researchers Brainbox Research, reveals that only 16 per cent of professionals think that child bereavement support in Leeds is effective.

And the research found that 100 per cent of bereaved families find the current service unsuitable for their needs.

More than half of the 270 professionals interviewed 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.

Elliot’s Footprint has presented the research to Leeds MPs and launched a petition urging the UK Government to give 100 per cent of Leeds parents adequate support following the sudden death of a child.

The charity is appealing to Leeds residents to back the petition, which needs 10,000 signatures to be considered in Parliament.

Andrea Kerslake, said; “This research has proven what we have already experienced first-hand as a family – that there is a serious need for immediate, intensive and family centred bereavement support in Leeds.”

Elliot’s father John Kerslake, said: “100 per cent of families agreed that, just like us, they had to rely on informal support, such as friends and faith networks, to help them cope with unimaginable grief. Other families, just like us, were sent away from hospital with just a leaflet, so traumatised and helpless that they were driven to Google in search of help and answers.” To sign the petition, go to www.elliotsfootprint.org