A North East charity which helps families cope with the trauma of losing a child has furnished its new bereavement suite with the help of a four-figure grant from the region’s biggest building society.

Darcey’s Dream opened the new facility at its Gateshead headquarters earlier this year to give parents and siblings a peaceful place away from hospital in which they can spend the time they need and make memories with their deceased child.

Newcastle Building Society has given the charity a £2,943 grant through its Ponteland branch to pay for a range of furniture and equipment for the two-room suite, including a double bed, linen and crockery, a sofa, rug, table lamps, microwave and wardrobe.

A cuddle cot, which allows parents to provide after-death care to their babies, has also been funded by the grant.

Darcey’s Dream is continuing to support families in need during the pandemic, with additional telephone and video services being provided where required.

Founder Petra Williams says: “Our bereavement suite provides a warm and homely place in which families can spend all the time they need without feeling rushed and allows them to stay overnight if they want to.

“We’re based close to many of the main hospitals around Tyne & Wear, meaning we’re easily accessible and can quickly provide parents with an entirely different environment from the clinical locations in which they’ve often had the most difficult of experiences.

“The suite has been designed to be a peaceful ‘home from home’ which offers the private space and time that families need to begin to come to terms with their tragic loss as best they can.

“The funding we’ve had from Newcastle Building Society has made a big difference to what we’ve been able to provide within the bereavement suite, and their support is especially important at a time where we’re not able to carry out most of our fundraising activities.”

The funding has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which was set up to offer grants to charities and community groups located in or around the communities served by the Society’s branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.

Charlotte Williams, manager at Newcastle Building Society’s branch in Ponteland, adds: “Darcey’s Dream provides invaluable practical and emotional support to North East families in the most difficult circumstances imaginable, and we’re proud to be part of such an important community project.”

Darcey’s Dream was founded in 2017 after the tragic death of Darcey Williams, who passed away at the age of just nine and a half weeks, leaving behind her twin sister, older sister and parents.

It offers a wide range of free services, including providing sibling memory boxes to hospitals, counselling and face-to-face support, distraction therapies and activities for children, breathing monitors and funding for days out and short breaks for families coming to terms with their loss.

Since its launch in 2016, Newcastle Building Society’s Community Fund has also contributed over £1.8m in grants and partnerships with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Princes Trust. The grants are so far estimated to have had a positive impact on more than 151,000 people.

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, the Society also made a £100,000 contribution to the £1m appeal set up by the Tyne and Wear Community Foundation for its Coronavirus Recovery and Response Fund.

The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.