Coffins and clothes for grieving parents

Katelyn CatanzaritiAAP
Volunteers who help families through baby loss are being remembered this National Volunteer Week.
Camera IconVolunteers who help families through baby loss are being remembered this National Volunteer Week. Credit: EPA

Although medical staff are tireless in their efforts to look after mother and child following the heartbreaking loss of a baby during pregnancy or birth, it often falls on others to support families through their grief.

Twenty years ago, Red Nose Australia set up the Treasured Babies Program as an initiative for bereaved parents.

Volunteers sew, knit or crochet appropriately sized clothing for the baby and create naming certificates, while supporters at Men's Sheds build "Angel'' burial boxes lined with satin or memory boxes for keepsakes - all to give grieving families everything they can to say their proper goodbyes.

"When a baby dies there is often little warning, leaving parents in shock," says Red Nose Australia's CEO Keren Ludski.

"Having access to the Treasured Babies items, which have been lovingly handmade, can reduce some of the stress at an incredibly traumatic time."

Beyond the Treasured Babies program, hundreds of Red Nose volunteers also staff the 24/7 Grief and Loss Support Line, answering the phone to devastated parents.

This National Volunteer Week, Red Nose is paying special tribute to its 1000 volunteers Australia-wide who help keep initiatives such as these running, and is calling on anyone interested in volunteering to consider doing so.

Volunteer and Treasured Babies manager Cindy Furby says the work is as important as it is rewarding.

"I have been volunteering with Treasured Babies since the program began 20 years ago and over the years we have helped thousands of families," she says.

"I believe every baby should be acknowledged, honoured and be treated as a little person.

"Volunteering makes me feel happy as (I am helping) these families who are thrust into awful situations."

Volunteering Australia says people who offer up their time and services to help others are the backbone of Australia.

"Volunteering brings people together; it builds communities and creates a better society for everyone," it says, adding that National Volunteer Week is Australia's chance to recognise the vital work being done and say thank you.

Red Nose 24/7 Grief and Loss Support Line 1300 308 307

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