'Befriending' For Baby Ashes Parents

6 May 2014, 01:00

Parents who've been left devastated by the baby ashes scandal in Edinburgh are being trained as befrienders to help other families cope.

So far two of the parents have agreed to be trained to help support others who're reliving the pain of losing their children.

Last week Dame Elish Angiolini's report revealed staff at Mortonhall disposed of remains in secret, telling mums and dads there would be nothing to scatter.

The report spoke of an apparent belief at Mortonhall that the bones of foetuses and even stillborn and neonatal babies could not survive the cremation process, despite available information to the contrary.

The inquiry found "overwhelming evidence'' that foetal bones do survive cremation, at least from 17 weeks gestation.

There was also a "long-standing and wholesale failure'' to comply with the local authority's duty to keep accurate records of the cremation of stillborn and neonatal babies at Mortonhall, the report stated.

It concluded that the situation at Mortonhall stemmed from a failure to reflect changes in social attitudes over the decades and that there was a lack of meaningful supervision or leadership from senior management on the issue.

Since the revelations last week the Scottish Government announced it's set aside £100,000 pounds to help provide additional counselling or support to those who need it.

Dorothy Maitland, operations director of Sands Lothians, is one of the affected parents.

She told us: "Already I have asked two long standing members of Sands who've been affected by Mortonhall if they would consider becoming befrienders. They both agreed to do that and will go for training in June.

"I have to look at the demand and it might be that we need to employ another counsellor. If we get a share of the funding then that is how we will use it, to support the parents.

"These groups work very well because you draw enormous strength from people. You know we've all been there and are going through it.

Dorothy lost one of her twin daughters Kaelen when she was 9 days old in 1986.

She says those involved in the charity want to be there for others across Scotland if we find out the issue is more widespread:

"If there's anything Sands Lothians can do to help other Sands groups in Scotland then we will will. We will do everything we can.

"We're like a family now. We're all in this together. We have to be united and help others get through this."