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JANUARY 2024 NEWSLETTER

A message from our CEO, Abbie

Welcome to January. A New Year in the calendar, and for many, and opportunity to focus on their resolutions for the year ahead. Giving a new sense of hope and encouragement to continually find ways to be better.    

However, entering a new year without our loved one can often bring new and intense feelings of grief. It is another thing that we must approach without them, and there may be more of a sense of anticipation or sadness about the year ahead. Change can be scary and moving into a new year can represent that.  

For me it is important to recognise, and ‘sit with’ our feelings. Grief is not a singular event, that we only encounter immediately after someone dies, it is ongoing. It ebbs and flows as we find a way to walk the path ahead. Grief is Love and love never ends. Similarly, grief never ends, but it changes, like the seasons; and each change brings with it new beauty and new challenge. Sometimes, you just have to go with the waves.  

  

For Sunflowers, 2023 saw a year of change and growth, we have invested in our team and ensuring that as a Charity, we can continue to meet the need and offer a compassionate and quality service to our Sunflowers Families.  

  

  • Chloe joined us as our Operations Manager. She has ‘hit the ground running’ to help develop our services and manage our team.  

 

  • Our liaison team has grown and developed. We now have Camilla and Roxanne delivering our liaison support, and Leah who is our new Family Support Worker. We are also recruiting another liaison officer.  

  • Our Administration Team have been busy coordinating all of our support services and Bheki has taken on the role of Senior Administrator, with Katie in the admin support role. We also have Lucy supporting our Fundraising administration.   

  

  • Our volunteer team have been a god-send of unsung heroes. Helping with book keeping, administration, sunshine boxes, support groups, peer groups, befriending, events, fundraising, and trusteeship to name but a few. I really cannot express with words how grateful I am to the Sunflowers Team for how passionate, hard working and dedicated they are. You have grown Sunflowers from the seed, into the flower it is today – shining a light into the darkness and spreading love and kindness.  

  

It is often a challenge to share how much work Sunflowers do, especially due to the sensitive nature of our work. Often people do no realise the in depth work and support our liaison team provide, masters of identifying needs and engaging with other organisations and services to ensure that even those needs we do not have the experience of capability to meet, are met externally by others. Our support thrives on multi-agency working and communication and our team work hard to develop collaborative working partnerships.   

  

Suicide prevention is everyone’s business; and this is a very true reflection of our Gloucestershire community. This past year, we have had incredible support, encouragement and fundraising from within the Gloucestershire community. We have formed friendships with our fundraisers, both individuals and corporates, as well as grant giving bodies. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us – without you, we would not be able to offer the service we do here at Sunflowers.  

Here is some of the impact we have had in 2023:  

  • We supported 250 families in 2023

  • In April we also developed our offer to capture a more robust support service to under 18’s and we already have 25 children and young people receiving bespoke care.   

  • We have authorised 466 1-2-1 funded counselling sessions.  

  • Over 24 hours of trauma-informed bereavement support group sessions have been delivered with 12 topics covered around grief, loss, trauma and the impact.  

  • We have delivered two Grief Recovery Courses, enabling families to process their loss.  

  • We have delivered 39 creativity hubs; successfully hosting our first Art Exhibition to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.  

  • Over 200 people in Gloucestershire have attended ASIST workshops giving them skills and confidence to have a conversation about suicide and work to keep others safe.  

Looking ahead throughout 2024, please rest assured that we are committed to continuing our efforts to create a nurturing and supportive environment for all our Sunflowers Families who are coping with loss.  

  

We aim to introduce new resources, groups, events, and opportunities for connection within our community. We have a new Gloucester support group ready to start, a family fun day booked in June, new safeTALK training available for the community, and suicide first aid training on offer to organisations. We continue to offer our liaison service and are developing our children’s work further. It is inevitable there will be more changes and challenges, but also so much positivity happening.   

  

Sunflowers community is one I watch and reflect upon with pride and awe. The families we support, also help and care for one another. They have a beautiful relationship and like sunflowers, they hold one another up during the storms.   

  

So, rather than setting goals for 2024, I will embrace what the year brings and will enjoy the journey with the amazing people I have had the privilege to meet along our way.  

  

Stay in the Sun, when the sunshine is gone, and you will know, the sunshine lives within you.  

Abbie – Sunflowers Founder  

We continue to be blessed with the support of absolutely amazing people in our community. Every time we receive a donation or contact from a fundraiser, we feel very privileged that they chose us. Thank you.

Fundraising Tractor Race

A massive thank you to Carol and the team for organising the fantastic Halloween tractor ride where they raised a fantastic £1435.27 split between Sunflowers and Cancer Research.  Looks like a lot of fun was had.  Thank you once again for your support! 

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2023 - Glitterbomb

On Halloween 2023 the amazing Team at Glitterbomb raised £42.26 by creating some wonderful Glitter Tattoos  

Thanks to the Wheatstone Inn

There was a beautiful Christmas Gift Tree at the Welcome Station at the Wheatstone Inn, Gloucester. People took a tag, bought the item on the tag, and returned it to the Wheatstone. All items were then donated to Sunflowers for their sunshine boxes, to help those in need of support. A big thank you to the Wheatstone for such creativity and kind support.  

Stars In Their Eyes

In November, James hosted a superb Stars In Their Eyes event at Kings Stanley Village Hall. Inspired by the TV show, singers competed to win votes from the audience to be crowned the winner. It was a fun filled live entertainment night and raised over £500 for Sunflowers.

Big thanks to The Original Factory Shop in Cainscross who continue to support Sunflowers generously and recently provided a cheque for £263.66

We are very grateful to Stonehouse Dog Training Club for their kind donation of £1000, raised by their members and organisers throughout 2023.  We really do appreciate this generosity, which will help us to continue to provide support throughout Gloucestershire in 2024. 

We are very grateful to Hicks Beach Masonic Lodge, in Stroud, for their kind donation of £500 to Sunflowers. This has been raised by members of the lodge during 2023. This donation will help us to continue to provide much-needed support for those families bereaved by suicide. Thank you for inviting Sunflowers to contribute to the lodge charity presentation, which was a very memorable and enjoyable evening 

We are blown away by the support of Stonehouse Rotary Club who chose us as their charity for 2023. Abbie was invited along to their new year meeting and provided a delicious meal whilst hearing about all the amazing activities they have delivered as part of their fundraising, from fireworks displays, to pantomime's. We were presented with a cheque for £4,000 on the evening to go towards our commitment to suicide awareness training within our community.

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Thank you for inviting Sunflowers to the gala night and for money raised across all their performances. We are extremely grateful for these kind donations. 

We would like to express our thanks and gratitude to everyone who has fundraised for Sunflowers in 2023 - your support is vital to enabling us to offer the support and training services to our community.

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2023 Mental Health Campaign -

Abbie was invited to Staffline virtual room to share our story about Sunflowers and to offer some basic suicide awareness training as part of their commitment to the mental wellbeing of their team.

Glos College Wellbeing Fair

Many Thanks to our Trustee Paul and volunteer Andy for attending the Gloucestershire College Wellbeing Fayre just before Christmas 

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Xmas Tree Fest 

Christmas Tree Festival On Friday 1st December 2023  Sunflowers took part in the annual Christmas Tree Festival in St Laurence’s Church Stroud.  As a centre for Peace & the Arts the church is host to a multitude of sparkling Christmas Trees all created and decorated by local business’s and groups. 

 

The  Sunflowers Tree is always a welcome, poignant and unique entrant to the festival and this year our Art group did us proud with their thoughtful decorations around the festival theme of Inclusivity. Creating multi coloured sunflowers and  paper chains of people they also made some candles decorated in Braile, images of sign language and multicultural angels.  

 

Visitors to the Festival were invited to Light a candle in memory of a loved one and to take a moment to reflect. After the opening night at Stroud Goodwill the tree had already been adorned with all the multicoloured Tea-lights and was looking incredibly pretty. 

At this point we have to offer our thanks to the festival organisers. Not only for working tirelessly in the run up with organising, but also officiating all week and making sure the 100,s of tea-lights on our tree were turned on and off everyday. They wouldn’t want it any other way apparently and encouraged us to not change a thing with the tree for next year.  

 

And a big thank you to the Sunflowers Art Group and Lucy Barrat for all their hard work 

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Stonehouse Goodwill Evening

Trustee Ian and volunteers Sonny and Sarah were on hand to man our stall at the Stonehouse Goodwill Festival in December.  Sonny had put together a wonderful collection of festive 'sweet cones' to sell at the event and we also gave out free information bags which included some Christmas treats for the younger generation.  As always the stand was very busy with supporters, service users and those new to Sunflowers and we had a great time. 

Philip Ford & Sons Memorial Concert

Trustee Ian was invited to speak at the Philip Ford & Sons memorial concert held at Stroud Subscription Rooms on Monday.   

 

The event was open to anyone who has lost a loved one this year and helped raise money for both ourselves and Longfield Hospice.  Ian was able to speak to a number of our service users and also some people who have been bereaved by suicide but did not know about us.  He also met up with Lena and Claire, counsellors from Longfield, and we are going to work more collaboratively with them in the near future. 

Welcome Leah! 

We are delighted to welcome Leah as our new Family Support Worker. Leah will be joining us 20 hours per week, bringing valuable expertise and warmth to our team. We look forward to the positive impact she will undoubtedly have on the families we support. 

 

Gloucester Drop-In Acknowledgment 

A heartfelt thank you goes to Wendy for her outstanding dedication to our Gloucester drop-in sessions. Your commitment has created a welcoming and supportive space for our community, making a significant difference in the lives of those who attend. 

 

Christmas Drop-In Hub Appreciation 

Our gratitude extends to Camilla for orchestrating a wonderful Christmas Drop-In Hub. Your creativity and effort made the event special, bringing joy and festive spirit to all who participated. Thank you for your invaluable contributions. 

 

General Update and Looking Forward 

As we reflect on the past year, we are grateful for the continued support from our community. The challenges we've faced together have strengthened our bonds, and we are optimistic about the possibilities the new year holds. We remain committed to providing unwavering support to all members of our community and look forward to growing together in the coming months. 

Support Group Expansion in Gloucester 

Exciting news! Starting from January 24th, we will be introducing a new support group in Gloucester. This group will convene on the fourth Wednesday of every month, providing an additional opportunity for our community to come together, share experiences, and find comfort in a supportive environment. 

 

Ongoing Services and Offerings

Our commitment to enhancing the well-being of our community remains steadfast. We will continue to provide a diverse range of services, including support groups, lunch clubs, creativity hubs, grief recovery courses, befriending services, and more. Your participation and engagement make these offerings truly meaningful, and we encourage you to explore the various opportunities available 

UPCOMING EVENTS

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