Giving HOPE to Leeds
A Leeds mother, who had to deal with the heartbreak of five miscarriages, has set up a new bereavement support group in the city to cater for parents of all faiths and religions.
34-year-old Ansa Ahmed knows firsthand about the support grieving families can, and cannot, receive following the death of their child and so made it her ‘mission’ to ensure there was support for every person.
Over the past ten years, Ansa has had to endure five miscarriages, which included giving birth to two children, and found that the support mechanism in society was just ‘not there’.
After years of wanting to set up a bereavement support group, and with the help of volunteers and generous institutions, the mother of one will finally fulfill her ambition when HOPE Bereavement support launches next month.
Ansa is already very active in the field as a member of the maternity services liaison committee, an auditor for the LSA which audits the hospitals within Yorkshire and Humberside, and part of one of Leeds’ infant mortality steering groups, yet this support group will offer a completely new service to Leeds’ bereaved parents.
Free two hour support groups will be held every Friday at Chapeltown Children Centre, from the 6th December, between 4pm and 6pm, and are open to everybody, regardless of faith or gender.
“Everybody deals with loss in different ways,” Ansa explained. “Over the past ten years I found healing for myself by helping others to cope.
“I’ve had negative and positive experience in the hospitals, including some racist comments and it is the last thing you want to hear when you’ve just lost your baby.
“Thankfully, I have got my little miracle, (14-month-old, Mustafa) but there are people out there who are suffering and therefore we set up HOPE. It’s something I’m really passionate about; to be able to give people out there this much needed helpline, regardless of faith or gender.”
The group offers services of grief support and counseling for parents who have lost a child at any stage up to the age of 16, whilst people can also be referred to other agencies if needed.
Special support is also given to women who, like Ansa, became pregnant after suffering a neonatal death previously. This was one of the hardest things the HOPE chair and founder had to deal with and describes the service as ‘essential’ for expectant mothers.
She explained: “I found out first hand that there is nothing to support women who have lost before and are pregnant again. There is no specialised anti-natal, but now I’ve managed to work with the hospital’s, and local, midwife and maternity services and managed to speak with consultants who deal with midterm losses and got them to refer to.
“It was only when I questioned a consultant why I was having trouble giving birth despite being past the ‘safe’ 21 weeks mark that I began to get answers.”
Statistically, Leeds has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the country with Asian families in particular having a higher number of fatalities.
“In the Asian culture itself it seems as if it is a taboo subject that people just don’t want to talk about,” Ansa added.
“It is often viewed upon as ‘God’s decision’ and you should just accept it but it must be acknowledged that we are all humans and need time to grieve and heal, but culturally that isn’t picked up.”
24-year-old Katie Popple is Secretary and Trustee of the HOPE Bereavement group. After also suffering the loss of a child during pregnancy earlier this year, the mother of one found there was little help offered by the hospitals and her local GP.
Katie met Ansa at a breastfeeding support group and has been instrumental in helping to establish the soon-to-be launched group.
“For me, I have no problem with the care that I have received throughout my two pregnancies, it is the lack of support after that is worrying,” she said.
“After I unfortunately miscarried earlier this year, the nurse at the hospital took me into a corner room to explain the situation. However, people kept passing by and interrupting; it was like I didn’t really matter but at that time in your life, you should have their complete care and attention.”
HOPE Bereavement group launches next month with its first free session on Friday 6th December. For more information please visit www.hopebs.org.uk or find the group on Facebook.