Sands, the stillbirth & neonatal death charity

Sands, the stillbirth & neonatal death charity

Charity information

Sands, the stillbirth & neonatal death charity

Sands is a national charity that offers support to parents whose baby has died, works with health professionals to improve care and practices, and funds research to help reduce the loss of babies’ lives.

Since the charity was founded, we have supported many thousands of families whose babies have died, offering emotional support, comfort and practical help. Sands has worked tirelessly with health professionals to revolutionise the care bereaved families receive in hospital. Sands has fundamentally changed the way in which bereaved parents and their babies are cared for.
Sands core aims are to:

• support anyone affected by the death of a baby;
• work in partnership with health professionals to try to ensure that bereaved parents and families receive the best possible care; and
• promote changes in antenatal practice and to fund research that could help to reduce the loss of babies' lives and the number of families devastated by this tragedy

“When you bury your baby, you don’t just bury their future, you bury with them your dreams, your own plans and your own future. You make as many memories in those few days as you can, as you know they will have to last your entire lifetime. ” Mother

Sands works tirelessly to achieve our aims, with a small team of employees and volunteers who are absolutely dedicated to making a difference. The charity relies almost solely on donations from individuals and companies, and we rely heavily on their energy and initiative to raise the funds each year that we need to deliver the wide range of services we offer. Your contribution will help towards furthering our core aims, in particular:

Bereavement support

This is at the core of everything we do. Some of the services that we offer include:

• Helpline for parents, families, carers and health professionals
• UK-wide network of support groups with trained befrienders
• Online forum and message boards enabling bereaved families to connect with others
• Website and a wide range of leaflets, books and other resources.

Our bereavement support services are predominantly free of charge to parents, and demand is high. For example, our confidential national support helpline takes almost 7,000 calls a year, we distribute around 25,000 support leaflets each year to parents, and our online forum has in excess of 6,250 users.

Donations are vital to continue providing our existing services, and to expand the range of services we can offer to respond to the ever-growing demand from parents and health professionals.

Improving the quality of care and services

We have played a lead role in changing understanding of the significance and impact of the death of a baby, and in transforming the way that parents and families whose baby dies are cared for and supported.

We undertake a comprehensive programme of training, workshops and talks for health professionals based on the Sands Guidelines Pregnancy Loss and the Death of a Baby: The Sands Guidelines for Professionals (widely recognised as an essential benchmark for good practice when caring for parents who have a pregnancy loss) which give practical guidance on how to meet parents’ needs and provide good care. Around 600 neonatal nurses and midwives are benefiting from this training each year.

Additional funding will allow Sands to increase the number and scope of workshops available.

Research to save babies’ lives

In spite of medical advances, the shocking reality is that each day in the UK there are ten babies who are stillborn and seven who die within the first 28 days of life.

“The devastation my family and I felt when our daughter Grace was stillborn was indescribable. No parent whose baby has died wants any other parent to suffer in this way... ” David Haig, Sands Patron

Some causes of stillbirth, such as pre-eclampsia and preterm labour are known and there is research going on in these areas. However, much more work is needed, especially into the more than 50% of stillbirth cases which are at present unexplained, and cases which Sands believes were potentially avoidable. Research in the area of stillbirth and early infant death is desperately under-resourced in the UK. Scientists and clinicians who work in this field passionately believe that perinatal mortality can be significantly reduced if the research work is funded and the outcomes are then incorporated into clinical practice.

Sands is dedicated to pushing the research agenda forward, and we believe that this is where we could really make a difference in the future. Through better understanding of why stillbirths happen, we hope that eventually we can identify women at high risk of stillbirth and develop interventions to reduce this risk, ultimately saving the lives of hundreds of babies. And preventing thousands of families in the future suffering the unimaginable pain of losing a child.
We have established a research fund and donations towards this will open up huge possibilities for stillbirth research, and could result in some major breakthroughs in the causes and prevention of stillbirth.

Founded 1978