Finding a Social Issue
After completing a questionnaire to identify which social issues they felt strongly about, the students formed groups with others who were interested in the same issues. Since the group of girls had a common interest in issues affecting families, they started researching charities that support families in Edinburgh and the Lothians and came across SANDS Lothians.
SANDS Lothians is a small independent charity that offers support, understanding and help, both of a practical and emotional nature, to bereaved parents who have experienced the death of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or soon after birth. After emailing Nicola Welsh, the Chief Executive of SANDS Lothians, the girls met with Nicola at the SANDS Lothians office twice to find out about the charity and to discuss the business case for their YPI presentation.
Visiting the Charity
Holly, Corrie, Esme and Grace felt that visiting the charity and meeting Nicola, the other staff and volunteers was very important. ‘We didn’t know much about the topic or the charity so we wanted to find out about it first hand, not just through a website.’
Understanding the role of Third Sector Organisations
SANDS Lothians caught the girls’ attention because the charity deals with issues that they had never been told about before and they wanted to be more aware of what was going on in their community. They explain, ‘We are girls and it does concern us but it’s something that isn’t really discussed so it’s good that SANDS Lothians is raising awareness. We wanted to learn about something new and educate ourselves on the topic as well as helping out.’
Despite not getting the opportunity to deliver their presentation in the YPI school final and not winning the YPI grant, all four girls have remained involved with SANDS Lothians since finishing their YPI programme.
Maintaining a relationship with the Charity
The girls continued, ‘We didn’t want it to be something we did just for a presentation. We wanted to do something that we were emotionally invested in and enjoyed being part of. From our first visit we knew we wanted to stay involved and actually help the charity. Especially as we didn’t win the grant, we felt that we should help even more.’
The girls returned to meet with Nicola and discuss how they could support SANDS Lothians moving forward. Holly, Corrie, Esme, Grace now volunteer their time to pack the precious memory bags that SANDS Lothians give to every newly bereaved family and help out with arts and crafts activities at SANDS Lothians’ Mother’s Day family events. Two of the girls also played the clarsach during SANDS Lothians’ Christmas remembrance service for bereaved families in December 2016 and another has been volunteering for a couple of hours each week to develop and update the charity’s website. This has allowed her to complete the Volunteering Section of her Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. On top of their volunteering commitment, the girls succeeded in raising awareness in their school about SANDS Lothians and the issue of baby loss and have continued to raise additional funds for the charity by selling candy canes and charity pin badges at Christmas time.