Smiles & Tears Bereavement Resource

@richardjarmy –

Nelson’s Journey reveal new educational bereavement resource

Nelson’s Journey has recently launched a new educational resource with support from Wymondham based toy manufacturer Orchard Toys Ltd. The Smiles & Tears resource will help young people to better understand the impact a significant bereavement can have on their peers, and encourage children and young people to talk about their feelings and views regarding the subject of death, dying and bereavement.

The ‘Smiles and Tears’ resource is a team based discussion tool aimed at groups of young people aged 10-17. It is structured similarly to a traditional board game, with teams moving their pieces around a large vinyl matt and considering discussion and question cards relating to the journey of young people following the death of a special person. Teams reflect on how bereaved children and young people may feel and react in different situations whilst also educating them in how to support peers who may have had a similar experience.

The idea was generated by the Nelson’s Journey Youth Panel and young volunteers when they were discussing how Nelson’s Journey could develop new approaches to support Norfolk’s bereaved children and young people. One young volunteer had been involved in an educational project taken into schools regarding the criminal justice system and felt that a similar approach could work around bereavement.

Jack was 11yrs when his Mum died, reflecting on his time when at high school he said “I was new to my school and we were playing a game to get to know each other. Another pupil said “If you have a Mum, stand-up” I stayed sitting down and my teacher said “Why haven’t you got up, you are cheating”, I explained that I don’t have a Mum and that she had died and he said “well you did have one, so stand up”. I was really angry and my Dad ended up speaking to the school and the teacher apologised. I think the new resource will help young people and school staff to better understand how they can support bereaved young people like me.”

Simon Wright, Chief Executive at Nelson’s Journey said “We need to break through the taboo of talking about death and grief, and support young people to feel comfortable in having those conversations. We’re grateful for the support of Orchard Toys and proud of our young volunteers and staff who have worked hard to create a resource that will encourage those conversations. We believe that this is the only resource of its kind in the UK”.

Ali Brown, Marketing Manager at Orchard Toys says “We are very proud to have been involved in developing this innovative resource with the Nelson’s Journey Youth Panel and young volunteers. It has been a pleasure to work with the Nelsons Journey team, on a resource that is very different in topic and style to our traditional educational games. Our design team have been very passionate about the project and have worked hard to create a resource that looks engaging and will encourage children and young people to participate.”

Schools and youth groups can register their interest in using the Smiles & Tears resource with young people by emailing or by calling 01603 431788

Volunteering for Nelson’s Journey: Andrea

In what capacity do you volunteer for Nelson’s Journey? e.g. support in the office, therapeutic interventions, events, youth panel etc.

Since starting 12 months ago I’ve volunteered at: events and day’s out, manned Nelson’s Journey stalls, helped in the office, helped at a residential weekend, given talks, supported Nelson’s Journey staff when they deliver Child Bereavement Awareness Training to professionals and even been an Extra for a short film promoting the NJ Purple Picnic. And…As it happens – tonight I’m going to a Ball (just call me Cinders!) to represent NJ and give information to attendees.

What was your motivation to volunteer for Nelson’s Journey?

When I moved to Norfolk (3 years ago) I was looking for a voluntary role which made use of my skills and experience in supporting vulnerable children and families. I kept hearing about Nelson’s Journey. And not just the odd comment but praises sung, unanimously, about the fantastic work the charity does.  A year ago, and after some research into the charity I applied to become a volunteer. I was very quickly interviewed and began my very own Nelson’s Journey, journey. And what a 12 months it’s been… I was welcomed on board by all the staff, who always have a smile and kind word for the volunteers no matter how busy they are or what they are dealing with through their work. Staff give excellent support to their volunteers and are always there to give guidance if needed. In January I was surprised and felt very proud to have been presented with a Bronze Volunteer award in recognition of the hours I had spent, over my first 8 months, supporting NJ.

What do you feel you get out of volunteering for a charity?

I look forward to continuing supporting in as many ways as I can because I feel there are still potential service users who don’t know enough about the services offered by Nelson’s Journey. And because service users themselves are so very grateful of support from staff and volunteers at difficult times in their lives. It is always rewarding when people feel they are able to tell you their story and talk about how they have been helped through their journey of bereavement. Volunteering for this charity has helped me to focus on something I wholeheartedly believe in and has helped me utilise my spare time in such a positive and uplifting way.

Have you learnt any new skills whilst volunteering for us?

I have pushed myself to do things I’ve never done before and really enjoyed the challenge. For instance, when I was interviewed I said that “I THINK i can give talks to groups of people”. And even after the training, I still wasn’t quite sure I could do it. But I did do it, and I loved it. I saw the impact that the information I was giving had on the attendees, listened to their stories and was overwhelmed by their support. I realised that it’s not about me and how I feel about standing up in front of a group and talking, it’s about spreading that all important NJ message and gaining peoples trust and support.  On the training weekend I learnt how difficult it is to do, what appears to be a simple task, without the wholehearted support of your team. As far as outstanding team work goes, I feel that Nelson’s Journey have got it nailed!

Have there been any ‘stand out’ moments for you whilst volunteering and if so can you tell us a little more about it?

Thinking back over the last year of volunteering I couldn’t pick one single outstanding moment because each time I have helped, no matter what I’ve been doing, there have been moments in every situation that stand out for me. I’m looking forward to many more ‘stand-out moments’ on my continuing journey as a volunteer with Nelson’s Journey.

Leah’s Story: Bereaved by suicide

Leah was supported by Nelson’s Journey following her Dad, Lawrence ending his life whilst working away in Singapore.

The impact of being bereaved in such circumstances is significant with family members and friends left with many questions. Leanne, mother of Leah chose to be open and honest with her and her siblings which helped Leah to process accurate information which is so important for bereaved children and young people.

Leah wants to help people of all ages to understand that it is ok to talk about suicide and it shouldn’t be a subject that is shied away from.

Prior to Lawrence’s death, the family has planned to climb Mount Snowdon but he died three weeks before this trip was due to happen. Leah, her Mum, step Dad and siblings will be climbing Mount Snowdon in memory of Lawrence and they are raising funds for Nelson’s Journey helping to ensure that our support remains available to those that need it. If you would like to sponsor Leah and her family you can do so by visiting

Leah has shown courage to share her story so openly and we hope you feel able to read about her experience to help her in her quest to help break the stigma of bereavement by suicide.

Thank you to EDP 24 for working with Leah and her family so sensitively.


Vacancy: Board Secretary (volunteer)

The Board of Trustees at Nelson’s Journey are seeking a volunteer secretary. The vacancy has arisen due to the retirement of the current secretary. The role of the Secretary is to support the Chair in ensuring the smooth functioning of the Board.

The Board of Trustees meets 8 times a year, on evening weekdays to a schedule agreed at the start of each calendar year. The meetings take place at Nelson’s Journey’s base: Smiles House, Little Plumstead, and generally last up to two hours. A Secretary is required for those Board meetings, and the work is otherwise flexible and can be carried out at home (or at Smiles House if required).

The Secretary is responsible for:

  • Ensuring full Board meetings are organised and minuted
  • Maintaining effective records and administration
  • Supporting Trustees where necessary with the requirements of the charity’s Constitution, governing documents, and other agreed governance processes, and having an awareness of charity law (training will be provided)

Please see the Role Description and Person Specification for further details.

Induction and training will be available as required for the successful applicant. It is understood that many potential applicants will not have experience of charity law or the charity’s constitutional requirements, and support will be provided.

This is a volunteer role, and no employment relationship is intended and no legal commitments are entered into between Nelson’s Journey and our volunteers.

Nelson’s Journey is SAFER accredited with the Norfolk Child Safeguarding Board. Recruitment to this role will be subject to our processes and policies regarding safeguarding of children. Nelson’s Journey will obtain a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for preferred applicants.

Applications should be sent to the CEO, Simon Wright, using the Application Form by MONDAY 29 JULY, 5pm. Arrangements for interviews will be discussed with shortlisted candidates at a later date (provisionally mid-Aug).

Any enquiries about the role can be directed to the CEO at


BeWILDerwood Purple Picnic

Join us at BeWILDerwood on 9th June from 10am – 4pm for a magical Purple Picnic.

Prices are discounted for children & families who have received a service from Nelson’s Journey. We have defined ‘family’ as any children and young people plus two accompanying adults. The adults could include parent, grandparent or carers.

To book your discounted tickets call on 01692 633033

Any questions can be directed to or 01603 431788.


We are pleased to announce an exciting new partnership project between Nelson’s Journey and Norfolk Scouts.  The aim of the project is to give bereaved children and young people, living in Norfolk, the opportunity to experience the positive benefits of Scouting.  The idea originally came from one of Nelson’s Journey young volunteers, as they felt meeting peers though the medium of Scouting was a great way to help children feel they are not alone.

The project will involve the setting up of 1st Smiles Scout Group which will be open to all children and young people referred to Nelson’s Journey who are already involved in Scouting or who may wish to join Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorer Scouts.

Both organisations are always striving to find new and innovative ways to engage children and young people in positive activities, which will hopefully improve children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.   The project will offer the opportunity for children and young people to take part in fun and enjoyable activities, as well as meet others who have experienced bereavement.’

Simon Wright, Chief Executive of Nelson’s Journey, said: “By working with Norfolk Scouts, we can pursue new ways of bringing back smiles to Norfolk’s bereaved children. Many of the children and young people that we work with benefit enormously from meeting with others of a similar age who are also bereaved, and understanding that they are not alone in their experiences. The 1st Smiles Scout Group will provide an excellent opportunity to help young people to build their self-esteem and learn new skills, while meeting others who have experienced the death of a special person.”

Matthew Burrell, County Commissioner for Norfolk Scouts, said: “We’ve been really excited about the prospect of working together with Nelson’s Journey. Both our organisations have at our heart the purpose of enabling young people to develop relationships, help each other and become more resilient. Nelson’s Journey supports children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, there is an absolute opportunity for the Scouts to help out providing safe spaces to learn new skills, build their unique character and mix with others as they map out their new futures.”

Life (without you) Exhibition

We are delighted to announce the launch of a special art exhibition which will feature in the Forum, Norwich from Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September. The exhibition will provide bereaved children and young people the opportunity to express their feelings, emotions and memories following the death of their special person/s.

We encourage children or young people, up to the age of 17yrs (inclusive) who have experienced the death of a special person, to create something that helps them explain what it is like to be a bereaved child or young person e.g. you might feel angry sometimes or happy because you remember funny things that you did together. There are lots of other feelings too and all of them are ok. Some people like to draw how they are feeling and others like to write it out in a poem or maybe even a song.

It is hoped that the exhibition will help break down barriers for bereaved children and young people, helping the wider community to better understand the complex range of feelings and emotions that are felt by those we support at Nelson’s Journey.

Judges will decide which pieces should be included in our exhibition in the Forum and the other pieces will be shown at a special event celebrating the 20th birthday of Nelson’s Journey.

Artwork and written poems will be framed, any clay items will be displayed on a table, and music or spoken poems will be available for people to listen to using headphones.

If you have any queries about the exhibition please contact Sophie Berry on or call 01603 431788.



Download further details about art exhibition from here.


We are very excited to announce a golf day to support Nelson’s Journey and Leeway being held at Eaton Golf Club on Sunday 23rd September.

We would love to encourage anyone who wants to come along and bring a team – female and junior teams are very welcome too! Teams of 4 cost £160 and include breakfast, 18 holes and a 2 course dinner. If you’d like to come along, please get in touch – or 0300 561 0077.

Capron & Helliwell’s fantastic year of fundraising!

The lovely team at Capron & Helliwell chose to support Nelson’s Journey as their charity of the year in 2017, raising a fantastic £3,500 throughout the year from a series of local events.

Sophie Berry went to collect the cheque from the solicitors office in Wroxham, on the 8th February, and enjoyed hearing about the fundraising that had taken place including a summer fete and yuletide market.

The amount raised is enough to send 14 children and young people on one of our therapeutic Residential Weekends at Hilltop Outdoor Centre near Sheringham. On these interventions, children meet others who have also been bereaved, realise they are not alone in their grief, and learn coping mechanisms for their negative emotions. There is also lots of work done to remember the person who died, and they are an incredibly therapeutic experience for the children we support.

Thank you and well done to all at Capron and Helliwell!


In October last year we held another Funeral Professionals Awareness Event at Smiles House, with over 25 professionals from the industry in attendance to find out about our work and how they can help signpost and facilitate the families they work with, after a death. Funeral Celebrant Sharon Wood attended and has since signed up as our latest member of our ‘Funeral Services Friends of Nelson’s Journey’, where local businesses and professionals make a monthly donation to help Nelson’s Journey keep up with the growing demands on its services.

Sharon told us about herself “I am a professionally trained Funeral Celebrant based in North Norfolk., with a Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy as well as being a member of the Institute of Civil Funerals and the Good Funeral Guild.

As a professionally trained Funeral Celebrant, my role is to offer bereaved families a funeral ceremony that reflects the wishes, beliefs and values of the deceased and their families. These ceremonies focus on commemorating the life of the person who’s died and include a personal and respectful tribute. Each ceremony captures the very essence of the person and tells the story of the life that has been lived.

My background is in nursing where I supported the dying and their families, so I am glad to carry on supporting the families through my Funeral Celebrancy.

A close friend of mine died in 2015 and her young son was supported so well by Nelson’s Journey. I also knows several other families, both personally and professionally, who have had help and support at Nelson’s Journey, which is why I’m committed to supporting this wonderful local charity.

I’m keen to further develop my skills in supporting those who are bereaved. I hope to do some volunteer work at Nelson’s Journey when time allows. I also offers a range of beautiful memorial jewellery, including jewellery in children’s sizes, a unique and beautiful way to help preserve the memory of your loved one.

I’m very excited to have become a Funeral Services Friend of Nelson’s Journey and am happy to support this fantastic local charity supporting bereaved children here in Norfolk.”

If you would like to support Nelson’s Journey on a regular basis, please click here: