Childhood bereavement is associated with a number of negative outcomes for young people, particularly when the their grief is left unacknowledged. There are a lot of worrying statistics, here are some of the key ones:
25 percent of under 20’s who took their own life had previously lost someone.1
1 child in every class has lost a parent or sibling.2
41% of youth offenders have experienced childhood bereavement compared to only 4% of the general population.3
Youth Justice Trust, 2001: A Survey of some of the General and Specific Health Issues for Youth Offending Teams. Greater Manchester Youth Justice Trust. ↩
The App is still in private beta and under active development. If you would like to test the game please get in touch and we can let you have access. If you want to hear when its released then subscribe to our newsletter.
In the future, we will make Apart of Me available:
We have partnerships with Hospices such as St Joseph’s Hospice and bereavement support organisations like like Winston’s Wish, Grief Encounter and Child Bereavement UK, ensuring that we deliver on our promise.
If you represent an organisation which may be interested in using our platform to support a specific group of young people we would be happy to talk about how we may be able to work together, please do get in touch.
We have big plans for the next phase of development, see our Next Phase page.
Apart of Me has been designed by an experienced Child Psychotherapist (and former Child Protection Social Worker), along with a team of expert advisors, including Rachel Fearnley, author of the book Communicating with Children when a Parent is at the End of Life , the Psychological Support team at St Joseph’s Hospice, and a number of other psychotherapists, and health professionals with a special interest in this area. We have developed the game based on detailed feedback and focus groups with young people and families who have lost someone to a terminal illness.
The game features checkpoints, moments at which the Oracle suggests that the young person check-in with someone if they are feeling particularly low or vulnerable. We also include phone numbers such as Childline at these key points.
There is currently no interaction allowed between the young person and other people through the device.
There is very little risk in this app. There is a chance that, as users play the app, emotions will be stirred up as they are asked to reflect on death and dying, especially on the death of a loved one. However, we have taken a very soft-touch approach, empowering the user in each moment, so that, for example, the user can throw bottles back into the ocean if the Quests contained within feel too challenging. We also have kept in mind the reality that, in the age of the internet, young people can and will look up their own information if they are not given it by the adults in their life. So we feel it is better to give them titrated information in a thoughtful way.
This tool is in no way a substitute for professional support where that is required. It can be used on its own where appropriate, or it can be used as an adjunct to professional support.
This app is based on the research that shows talking with children openly and honestly (but in an age-sensitive way) about death and dying can prevent them from developing entrenched, complex feelings around their loss.
‘Waiting until after the death to intervene cannot only leave a family feeling unsupported during a most stressful, confusing time, but can also give rise to maladaptive parent-child interaction patterns which can continue well into the post-mortem period when the stress of a terminal illness is long past’ 1
There is a great list of evidence-based coping strategies for grief here, many of which we have used in the game. For example:
Finding meaning: In the game, your aim is to train to become an Oracle, having the opportunity to turn your suffering into a story that can provide hope to other young people.
Family-based approach: ‘This can reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors though increasing positive interactions between parents and children and by increasing their mutual understanding of the illness and its family impact’ - This is the primary idea of the whole game, digital tool encouraging offline interaction, but specifically through the Quests system and the rocks on the island.
A Safe Space to Explore Feelings: A crucial need of a grieving child is being able to have a safe space in which they can express their own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, without feeling judged by adults who may hold different or contradictory views. This is what we provide in Apart of Me.
Emotional literacy around grief is key: especially when the loss is more traumatic. We provide this through the Cave.
Mindfulness improves young people’s ability to tolerate stress: There is some emerging evidence for mindfulness as a specific approach to help people through grief 2
There is also a growing evidence-base of games with a clear therapeutic benefit 3.
(Dunning, S. (2006) As a Young Child’s Parent Dies: Conceptualizing and Constructing Preventive Interventions, Clinical Social Work Journal, 34(4): 499 – 514.) Beale, E.A., Sivesind, D. and Bruera, E. (2004) Parents dying of cancer and their children, Palliative and Supportive Care, 2: 387 – 393. ↩
For the prototype, we worked closely with Nominet Trust to monitor outcomes using a combination of in-app analytics and semi-structured interviews with our users.
74% of users said they would recommend our prototype to a grieving family. 81% said they would recommend it once we have made the improvements we are planning.
The aim of our crowdfunding campaign is to raise money to make those changes and make the app available for a wide range of people. Once we have the app production we will be carrying a wide ranging evaluation and will be measuring resilience through school attendance, reduction in offending and a variety of standardised questionnaires recognised as measuring mental health outcomes.
We have produced a parents and carers guide which contains more information about the techniques used within the app and the information contained within it.
Apart of Me is a not-for-profit project supported by Bounce Works. All Apart of Me fundraising is managed via a collective fund administered by Prism, the Gift Fund, a Charity specialising in helping single issue projects like ours (registered charity number 1099682). Bounce Works and Prism the Gift Fund have a contract in place that enables this project to be officially deemed charitable according to UK law. Prism, the Gift Fund are responsible for administering the fund, managing gift aid contributions and ensuring that the money raised is used in accordance with the aims of the Apart of Me project.
Bounce Works itself is a social enterprise dedicated to benefitting the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children, adults and families.
If you have any questions about either body or want more details about how any donated funds will be used to help the Apart of Me project please get in touch.
Yes! As long as you are a UK taxpayer, you can claim Gift Aid for donations to our not-for-profit project, Apart of Me. If you donate via our fundraising page you will be given a chance to fill in a Gift Aid declaration.
Non-UK donors may also be able to benefit from tax relief in their own jurisdiction, if this applies to you please contact us prior to donating and we can help.