Supporting Siblings to know they’re not alone

What is Sibling Support and how does it help the brothers and sisters of children with life limiting and life threatening conditions? Sibling Support is one of the many support services we provide at Acorns Children’s Hospice. In this blog, learn more about why it’s such an important service.

At Acorns we know that children and young people growing up with a poorly brother of sister often get less attention from parents and have more worries and responsibilities than their peers. Acorns has a dedicated Sibling Support Team that facilitates group sessions and offers one-to-one therapeutic support to over 200 siblings every year.

Each of our three hospices has a dedicated Sibling Support Worker who works tirelessly to get to know each child and young person and to meet their individual needs, including pivoting to virtual support during the pandemic.

Our one-to-one support helps children to explore their emotions and their sense of identity and can improve their mental health and wellbeing. It provides an opportunity for a child to talk about their hopes, dreams, and fears in a safe space, without judgment.

While Sibling Group sessions also provide fun experiences for young people and allow them to meet others who may be in a similar situation to them.

Sarah Childs is the Sibling Support Worker at Acorns in Birmingham. She and her counterparts at Acorns for the Three Counties and Acorns in the Black Country bring siblings together, planning activities and providing support that children will enjoy but also really benefit from.  

Sarah explains: “One of the main things that siblings get from the groups is the feeling that they’re not alone. You’re not the only one who is woken up in the middle of the night by an ambulance; you’re not the only one who listens out for coughs or beeping machines; you’re not the only one who worries if your mum and dad are ok; and you’re not the only one who has suffered the loss of a brother or sister.

“In my role, I focus on these siblings and make sure they feel like the centre of attention. I’ll meet with the sibling to assess their needs and feelings. Sometimes I may suggest one-to-one support, or I’ll see if they want to come to our Sibling Groups.”

Sibling activities also include days out, from a trip to the cinema to a day out bowling. These experiences enrich the lives of these young people and give an opportunity for them to explore their hobbies and interests.

The Importance of Sibling Support

Faye is Luca and big brother Zach’s mum. Her family is supported by our Birmingham hospice. She said: “Zach worries about Luca. Talking to other children in the same boat really helps. Talking to someone else is easier for him, he opens up and shares his emotions so much more than he does with us.”

Support for families

Find out more how we support the whole family at Acorns