PCC speaks to Miscarriage Association’s Erin Sharkey11th October 2019
In 2015 the Patient and Client Council set up the Pregnancy Loss Steering Group (PLSG) – the PCC and PSLG then went on to work with the Miscarriage Association on early pregnancy loss literature to promote the services provided by the charity in Northern Ireland.
This week’s blog recognises Baby Loss Awareness week (which takes place every year between 9th and 15th October) and spoke to Erin Sharkey from the Miscarriage Association:
The Miscarriage Association was founded in 1982. Their mission was, and still is, to offer support and information to anyone affected by miscarriage, molar and ectopic pregnancy. The Miscarriage Association (MA) aims to raise awareness of and promote good practice in medical care for those affected by pregnancy loss, including good emotional care. The MA has a small staff of fewer than 10 people. The charity is physically based in Wakefield, Yorkshire but provides support and information all over the UK and beyond. The MA provides online and phone support as well as running several face to face peer support groups.
I began volunteering at the beginning of 2013, after having multiple miscarriages and found very little support or information, until I discovered the Miscarriage Association. Once I’d completed training, I began helping out at the London support group which for several years was the only group in the whole of Greater London. I moved on to running the group along with a staff member from the trust. I organised the annual London Walk of Babyloss Remembrance. The walk was a very special event and brought families together from all over South East England.
I moved to N.Ireland in late 2018 and left my group in very capable hands, knowing that the people attending would continue to be well looked after and supported. Once I settled in to N.Ireland and started finding my feet I could quickly see there was the need for miscarriage support here. Ruth, National Director of the MA, was very keen to increase their presence here in N.Ireland. So we began looking and asking and finding out! We decided that, at present, the most effective support would be a peer support group in Belfast. Following many meetings and emails and telephone calls, we secured a venue and last month we held our first NI Support Group.
The group began, as the best groups do, with tea, coffee and biscuits and some informal introductions which led perfectly on to why we’d come. There were six of us in attendance and the group lasted for 90 minutes, though it could have gone on for easily double that!
The group is open to all adults who have been affected by miscarriage and although we aren’t therapists or counsellors we support each other through shared experiences and empathy. People are welcome to come back as and when they feel it would be beneficial. The group meets 1st Wednesday of the month in Bradbury Centre on Lisburn Road, 7-8.30pm, and the sessions are confidential and judgement-free, we have tea and tissues at the ready.
The N.Ireland Walk of Babyloss Remembrance will take place on Saturday, 12th October at 5.30pm meeting at City Hall gates. The easy 5km walk is accessible and buggy friendly and babies and children are very welcome.