FoundationHoneysuckle FC: The Bond of Love
As we recognise Mental Health Awareness Week, we wanted to raise awareness of our partnership with the Honeysuckle Bereavement Service at Liverpool Women’s Hospital.
We have teamed up to create a football team specifically for bereaved dads & men who have experienced baby loss.
Over the past few months staff have worked collaboratively to create a biweekly football session for the men.
One participant said, “After losing two babies and one other pregnancy that didn't develop, my head completely fell off.”
“I didn't know what day it was, and some days are still like that. But being a part of this group means so much. Even though I never say anything, it's nice to know I can.”
Pauline McBurnie, Bereavement Midwife, said, “The Honeysuckle Bereavement Team at Liverpool Women’s Hospital provides care and support to parents and their families following a baby bereavement. During one of their monthly support groups one of the dads suggested setting up a football team. The main aim would be to bring any men affected by baby loss at any stage of pregnancy or shortly after birth together to support one another.”
Physical activity is often proven to give people a mental boost, but this is more than just a kickabout. Before each training session or match, the men meet and discuss how their weeks have been through a support networking session allowing people to talk, give advice or share coping strategies they’ve found useful.
“The bond of love” is a term used by the Honeysuckle team and this motto is already evident during sessions.
Honeysuckle FC provides a safe environment for men who’ve experienced baby loss, to spend some time enjoying physical activity whilst allowing them to feel that they have the support of not only clinical staff but from their teammates too. An online support chat has been set up where the group can talk, suggest ideas for fundraising, design their new kit and crest amongst general supportive messages and photos.
The partnership has been a real success with 25 Participants getting together with players travelling from as far as North Wales and Staffordshire to be a part of this special team. Plans are now in place to host friendly fixtures against other charity & mental health specific football teams.
Pauline went on to say, “Emotional distress following baby loss is common, with an enduring grief occurring for many parents. However, little is known about men’s grief and much of the focus of support may be towards the mother”.
“There is a need in today's society to increase the accessibility of support services for men following pregnancy/neonatal loss, and to provide recognition and validation of their experiences of grief.”
“Many men felt pressure just to ‘stay strong’ and not discuss grief.”
Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, said, “We are extremely proud to be partnering with LFC Foundation on this amazing project.”
“Everyone in Liverpool and the surrounding area knows more than most, how powerful football can be in helping to cope during challenging times and a baby bereavement is the most difficult period in anyone’s life.”
“Our Honeysuckle Bereavement Team do amazing work and it is fantastic to see the support for men and dads being provided here, bringing everyone together for a common purpose and for mutual support.”
If you’ve been affected by baby loss and are interested in joining the group please contact:
Mark Henderson - Mental Health Coordinator - email@example.com or
Marie Kelleher - bereavement midwife - firstname.lastname@example.org