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In 2013 in the UK, one in every 137 babies was either stillborn or died in the first 4 weeks of life

Here in N. Ireland, over 3 babies a week are stillborn or die in the first 4 weeks of life.

We support all bereaved parents who have lost their babies, before, during or shortly after birth.


A Befriender can be a lifeline for bereaved parents, giving them an opportunity to be listened to and to share their feelings with someone who really understands what it is like when your baby dies.


All Sands befrienders must attend Sands' Befriender Training Programme. We insist on this as we believe that befrienders need to have thought about their own issues, their sources of support and to have some practice in the skills they will need in order to operate effectively.

Overview of our Befriender Training Programme

It is a requirement that in order to become a Sands befriender at least one year should have elapsed since your own baby's death. You are also required to attend and succesfully complete the Befriender Training Programme, be a current member of Sands and be in touch with your nearest local group.

The training has been condensed into 2 days and after successful completion, notification will be made in writing to advise that befrienders may commence their new role.

Day 1 - An introduction to befriending, looking at why parents want to befriend, listening skills and comunications.

Day2 - Covers bereavement, empathic understanding and more diverse issues eg: termination for abnormality, suicide, etc.

Both days are very interactive, with exercises carried out in pairs and small groups, as well as within the group as a whole.

After one year, befrienders are required to attend a follow up day (Day 3) to review and enhance their skills, and also to give them an opportunity to discuss any problems or concerns that they may have experienced. This day is also designed for existing Befrienders to refresh their skills and exchange ideas and experiences. it is intended that all Befrienders will be required to attend Day 3 every three years.

Befriender's needs

The role of Befriender can be very rewarding but can also be demanding and at times draining.

Anyone in a formal supporting role needs some support themselves; because most befrienders are bereaved parents it is even more essential that they have somewhere to go when they need to talk to about their own emotions.

There need to be boundaries to the support a befriender is expected to provide. No-one can be on call 24 hours a day without burning out very quickly. Befrienders need to have times when they don't have to answer the phone. They also need to know that they can hand over to someone else for a while if they need a break.

Please remember that Sands is there to support you as a Befriender.

If you are interested in becoming a Sands Befriender, please speak to the befrienders at your local support group about befriending or contact:

Sands Head Office, 28 Portland Place, London, W1B 1LY. Tel: 020 7436 7940