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Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden 6:30am - 10am
1800 children across Exeter, East and Mid Devon are losing or have just lost a loved one at any one time.
Charity Balloons offers support to families and has been given more lottery funding to expand its work here. Currently the Exeter-based organisation does most of its work in the city but hopes now to better cover East and Mid-Devon too.
Family Support Worker Deborah Butler says there are warning signs when a child isn't coping: "depression, anger, a child might revert back to more infantile behaviour, extremely emotional, struggling at school or maybe sometimes doing too well at school."
She has this advice to anyone who comes into contact with a grieving child: "patience, kindness, respect, listen. Listening is the most important thing that you can do for that child. Not to judge the child, not to decide whether or not you understand what they are saying, thinking or feeling, not to expect them to be logical. Very often the way they remember traumatic events is not logical, it doesn't come in order, it doesn't necessarily make sense, it might not come out in an emotionally articulate way but the most important thing is that those feelings are verbalised and somebody is there to listen and not judge."
Families can be referred to the charity - or contact them themselves. Deborah told Heart about the reaction of a parent they recently helped: " she said when balloons came in and starting giving support she felt like someone gave a great big pair of arms around her whole family and were keeping them all together. So when you get feedback like that from a mum who has gone through a hell of a lot recently, it makes it all worthwhile."
To listen to the interview with Deborah Butler click HERE
You can find out more about Balloons here