Winston’s Wish turns 30

Take a look back over the last 30 years, hear from some of the people we’ve helped and read our ambitious plans for the future

Two young girls with balloons and party hats celebrating Winston's Wish 30th birthday
Home » About Winston’s Wish » Winston’s Wish turns 30

We are 30!

Thirty years ago, Winston’s Wish became the first dedicated childhood bereavement charity, paving the way for young people’s bereavement services in the UK.

Three decades and thousands of lives touched later, we’ve helped children, teens and young adults find their feet after their worlds were turned upside down by grief. We’ve also been there for countless parents, family members, teachers and professionals with the words, the advice and the guidance to show up for their bereaved young person.

Where it all began…

Hear from some of the people we’ve supported over the last 30 years

Debbie’s story: “Thank you, Winston’s Wish, for being a light in our darkest days”

“I remember the first time I looked at the Winston’s Wish website and I immediately felt relief. Relief that there was a place out there where people understood what it’s like to parent children who are grieving.

“I imagine I’m not unique in that I’m one of many families out there in the shadows who ultimately remain anonymous to the charity, and yet gain so much benefit at the same time.”

Benedict smiling - Winston's Wish

Benedict’s story: “It’s hard to ask for help”

“I have seen over the years how speaking to others in such a situation has helped. It is hard to ask for help, but taking that plunge makes everything that bit easier to process. It is never a sign of weakness – I see it as a sign of strength.

“The mission of the charity is very close to me and seeing all the marvellous work Winston’s Wish does just shows how valuable the support to bereaved children and families is.”

What next for Winston’s Wish?

Over the years our services have evolved, and many things have changed, but our drive to ensure no child or young person goes through grief alone has been at the beating heart of Winston’s Wish since day one. And that’ll never change!

Our pioneering spirit still burns bright, and just as we paved the way 30 years ago, we’re ready and raring to set a new standard for youth bereavement services.

With a digital-first approach we’re aiming to reach 40,000 children and young people nationally per year by 2025. We’ll continue our great work to support children and their families, but we’re also making a dedicated promise to bereaved teenagers and young adults (aged 13-25) to ensure they have a space in the young person’s bereavement sector. We want to do more for them. We want to amplify their voices, build a community they can connect with, and we want to share their real and unedited experiences of grief – the good, the bad and the gritty!

We can’t wait to take you on the journey!

Fergus Crow

A message from our CEO, Fergus

30 and beyond!

Since 1992 we have been privileged to provide grief support for thousands of children, young people and young adults. We’ve also been able to help many parents, carers and professionals who have provided care and support for under 25s after the devastation of the death of someone close to them; and we have been proud to work alongside other organisations as part of building a wider community of support for the bereaved.

The world has changed, and we have changed too. The shadow of a devastating pandemic that has claimed many thousands of lives looms large. We can be certain that many thousands more have been affected by grief and bereavement in this time.

It seems unimaginable now that 30 years ago there was no one place that grieving children and young people could turn to for support, reassurance, help and guidance after someone close to them died.

Winston’s Wish was founded because our visionary founder, Julie Stokes, saw and felt the real and raw needs of grieving children in her community, and made a commitment then that no child or young person should have to face grief alone. This is our DNA, and it remains our mission 30 years later.

We are proud of the legacy of that founding commitment. So, thirty years later, we can say the UK is a better place for grieving children, young people and young adults – but some big problems remain.

In 2022, too many grieving children and young people have no voice, are invisible to services that can help, and just can’t access the support they need when, where and how they need it, including some of the most vulnerable in our society.

This means they may be suffering alone, or that their grief has such a devastating impact on them that it affects their mental health, their physical health, their education, their relationships and their chances of leading a full life now and in the future. That’s not fair, and it’s not inevitable.

Our vision for the next 30 years is to do again what we did back in 1992 and help inspire a new era of open access bereavement support that consigns the postcode lottery of grief support for children and young people to history, one in which every child, young person and adult knows where to find the help they need when, where and how they need it.

Here’s how we are going to achieve it:

Amplifying the voices of grieving children, young people and young adults

Our expertise changes lives, and we will continue to use our expert voice where it matters most. But the most important voices are those of the children and young people we support (and the silent voices of those we don’t). Projecting their voices out into the world, and the truths they tell us about what grief really feels like is the best way to build support, understanding and commitment to making things better.

To be able to provide the services young bereaved people need, we will put them fully at the heart of our public voice and our decision making, and driven by our Youth Advisory Board they will have the power and the platform to shape the future of Winston’s Wish services.

Children and young people at the heart of everything we do

More and more children, young people and young adults expect to be able to get support on their own terms. We agree, but our services have mostly been geared towards children and young people accessing our help through the adults looking after those children and young people.

That will still be true for younger children and some vulnerable groups, but we are now accelerating new support driven by digital that meets the needs of more young people and young adults directly and instantly which will allow them to have a greater sense of agency, control and community as they journey through the devastation of grief. By 2025 our ambition is to reach 40,000 children and young people a year through our range of direct and indirect services and support.

From ‘hard to reach’ to impossible to miss

Not every child, young person or young adult in the UK knows we are there for them. That’s not their fault, it is ours. We have been too hard to reach. Now, any child, young person or young adult under 25 can come to us for support, no matter who has died, no matter when. It is our job to help, full stop.

We are on a journey towards making our services equitable, inclusive and accessible to all, and prioritising how we reach out to find those who need our support either on our own or (much better) in partnership with others. It is hard enough to suffer the pain of grief – it is hard enough to find support. We may never be a household name, but our goal is to be a name that can be found by every household.

These are ambitious goals, and these are challenging times. But 30 years of experience tells us that together it is possible to achieve our dreams and much more, and that nothing could be more important for the grieving children and young people of today, and those that will face the heartbreak of grief tomorrow.

Coral scribble line

How you can get involved

Support for bereaved children from Winston's Wish
Get support

We provide support for grieving children, young people (up to 25) and for adults supporting them, including one-to-one and group support, a Freephone Helpline and free resources.

Support Winston's Wish - Fundraise
Support us

Make a donation, take on a fundraising challenge or volunteer and help us continue to provide support for the thousands of grieving children and young people who need us.

About Winston's Wish
About us

Find out more about what we do and the impact we have, meet our team and understand why children and young people need support with their grief.

Connect with us

Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media for all our latest news and advice on supporting grieving children and young people.