A NEW bereavement service for children and young people is being launched by Bolton Lads and Girls Club.

The club says it will be the first such service of its kind in the borough and will start providing support this month

Kelly McFadden, who is part of the team co-ordinating the initiative at the club, said: “Our work has never been more vital.

“Throughout the pandemic we have adapted our services in order to still be able to provide vital support to our children, young people and their families across Bolton at a time now when they truly do need it most.

“Our Grief, Loss and Loneliness Project, launching in July, will support young people and their families who have suffered bereavement. There is currently nothing of its kind in Bolton.

“It was in our plans to launch this service this year as we realised that there was a need for a service to support young people and their families in Bolton who are bereaved. The Covid-19 outbreak has accelerated this, making the need greater and more urgent.

“It’s very important to help young people deal with the loss of a loved one. Unresolved grief not only affects childhood but continues to impact into adult life too.

"Research shows that without proper support at the right time, bereavement in childhood can hamper successful transition into adulthood, with long-term health, education and employment consequences.

“Tackling loss and loneliness now will have a lifelong impact, giving bereaved children the chance to reach their potential and live a happier life.”

Now a fundraising drive is under way to raise £26,000 to support the project through the Big Bolton Dash.

Kelly said: “If we meet our target, the money raised from The Big Bolton Dash will pay for one bereavement practitioner for a full year which will literally save lives.”

To raise funds, Bolton-based Four Recruitment has teamed up with the club to host the event which takes place throughout the week beginning next Monday.

The aim to get at least 131 teams registered ­- one for every year the club has been in operation.

Local companies pay to enter a team and together they will complete a marathon by any means they wish.

Owners of Four, brother and sister Phil and Claire Sofield, came up with the idea after speaking to Kelly, head of fundraising and communications at the club.

Phil said: “After speaking to Kelly during a catch up call, we realised what an impact Covid-19 had had on the club, and we just wanted to do something to help”.

Claire added: “Right now we all need something positive to focus on and helping the most vulnerable kids in Bolton seemed the perfect way to have an impact.”

The event is also encouraging schools and nurseries in Bolton to take part.

Children that register do not need to pay an entrance fee and to complete a mile and raise money through any donations from family and friends.

St Bartholomew’s CE Primary in Westhoughton. was the first school to sign up.

Headteacher Mark Johns said: “Anything that gets our children active and helps to support a fantastic local charity that really needs it is absolutely something that we are delighted to get behind.”

The Big Bolton Dash is also encouraging local businesses to match fund the first £1000 raised.

Phil said: “If we are able to get 10 companies signed up to this then our starting figure will be boosted to £11000, which gives us a great start to reach our £26,000 target”.

Bolton firms which will match fund are digital agency Bring Digital, TVD Group, Stateside Foods, Invision and Gorilla Accounting with Four Recruitment doing the same.

Claire said “It’s an amazing start to our fund raising and just demonstrates the incredible generosity of the Bolton business community.

“What started as just an idea to raise some money for a great cause is really gathering pace and actually now feels like something the whole town could get behind it. We have been blown away with the support that has been offered by everyone we have spoken to. Special thanks to Martin Dickson owner of Arena for creating the branding, coming up with the name and offering his services for free.”

To get involved contact Kelly.McFadden@BLGC.co.uk or bigboltondash@4recruiting.co.uk. To donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/big-bolton-dash