Club is an ‘Oasis’ for local children

NPL Community Centre'Oasis volunteers'PA1136-4'Sue Sutton, Lisa Harding, Denise Baines, Heather Denham, Sue Long
NPL Community Centre'Oasis volunteers'PA1136-4'Sue Sutton, Lisa Harding, Denise Baines, Heather Denham, Sue Long

AN OASIS of fun is being provided in Bridlington for bereaved children and youngsters dealing with terminal illness in their family.

Based at the New Pasture Lane Community Centre, the Oasis club opened on Monday evening and will run weekly from 6pm to 7.30pm to offer children ‘time out’ from grieving.

It has been set up by the family and supporters of the Emma Colangelo Memorial which was formed following the death of Bridlington mum Emma who suffered a fatal brain aneurysm the day after her 31st birthday in December 2006.

She left behind two young sons, Luca and Rocco, now 10 and six, and Emma’s mum Sue Sutton said that the family’s experience of helping the boys cope with their loss inspired them to set up the club.

Sue said: “I wish that there had been something like this when Luca was going through a difficult time.

“Death in the family can throw up all sorts of difficulties for families, such as a sibling being too young to remember their lost one and not understanding why their older brother or sister is upset, and if a remaining parent finds another partner it can also be hard for the kids.

“Also many children, particularly in single parent families or where both parents work, are often looked after by their grandparents and are very close to them so they find it hard when they lose them.

“There are all sorts of complications and difficulties and we just want to provide a happy environment where the kids can have fun and play, with the added benefit that all the children in the club are going through a similar experience.

“Being a young child and dealing with death can be a very isolating experience and we hope that our club can help the kids and give them something to look forward to each week.”

Oasis is staffed by experienced volunteers who are all CRB checked.

A trained child counsellor attends each session to help if any children get upset or need to talk about their feelings and volunteers will also transport youngsters to and from the club for free if their parents are unable to take them.

Sue said: “It is all about having fun, not about dwelling on loss and grief but it’s great that we have a trained child counsellor on board who can offer that kind of support if and when it is needed.”

Centre manager, Sue Green, has given Oasis use of the facility at a reduced rate and Sue Sutton and her team, which includes her husband and daughter, have fund-raised throughout the summer to pay for the club to run for a year.

She said: “We haven’t asked anybody for any money and we’re so pleased that we’re able to run Oasis for at least a year and then we’ll take it from there.

“It sounds daft but in one way it’s sad if it takes off because that means there are a lot of local children suffering grief, but obviously we really wanted to provide this service so that if it is needed, people know where we are.

“On Monday we had five little girls attend and the feedback we got from them was great, they all wanted to stay longer and were already talking about what they wanted to do next week - dancing to JLS!”

Oasis is free to its users and a range of activities will take place each week, such as painting, baking and dancing.

Parents who would like to take their child along must contact the club on 679256 before attending so that paperwork can be filled out.