Refer a child or young person to Winston’s Wish

Our one-to-one and group bereavement support, and our grief counselling, can be accessed only via a referral. Parents, carers and professionals who are seeking support for a bereaved child under the age of 13 can complete our referral form below.

For young people aged 13 or over, we ask you to complete a referral form with or encourage the young person to complete their own referral using our self-referral form.

We believe in empowering young people to take charge of their own grief support journey and give them a voice. This is the first step on this journey.

Please note, each child or young person will require their own referral form.

If you need support now, please use one of our free on-demand services. You can call 08088 020 021 (open 8am-8pm, weekdays), email or use our live chat on our website (open 8am-8pm, weekdays).

A bit about us

Winston’s Wish provides short-term bereavement support services for children, young people and families affected by the death of someone important to them. We are not a mental health or crisis intervention service.

If it’s decided that we aren’t able to give a child or young person the appropriate support they need, we’ll put you in touch with a provider that can. The reasons for this can vary and we are happy to discuss this with you.

Please be aware that most of our appointments are offered within school or working hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) and that we ask for a commitment to attend appointments regularly. If you do not feel that this will be possible at present, please don’t forget that our on-demand services are available for support and advice from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.

What happens next?

Once you submit your completed referral form, it will be sent to our team of bereavement specialists who will then go through what is called a ‘triage process’ which reviews all of the information you’ve provided. This is our way of making sure that young people receive the most appropriate support based on their own individual needs.

We will let you know the outcome of your referral within five working days.

Referral FAQs

Children and young people must meet our eligibility criteria (see question 2).

We accept referrals from adults and professionals supporting bereaved children under the age of 13. You can complete a referral using the form below.

We accept referrals for young people under the age of 13 from:

  • Parents/stepparents/grandparent/siblings and other immediate family members
  • Teachers and other staff working in schools, colleges, University or other higher education settings
  • Health and social care professionals

For young people aged 13 or over, we ask you to complete a referral with or encourage them to complete their own referral using our self-referral form.

We believe in empowering young people to take charge of their own grief support journey and give them a voice. This is the first step on this journey.

We can only accept referrals and support young people who have given their consent or are willing to receive our support.

We like to make sure that we’re providing the right support for the right people. Sadly, our services aren’t always suitable for everyone. Children and young people will be considered eligible to access Winston’s Wish services if:

  • They are aged 25 or under at the point of making a referral
  • Have experienced the death of a person(s) that was important to them before the age of 25
  • They require additional support to help them to cope with their grief
  • They have access to the internet
  • They have experienced any of the following as a result of their grief:
    • Feelings of anxiety
    • Feelings of depression
    • Feelings of hopelessness
    • Feelings of anger
    • Difficulty communicating with family, friends, trusted adults, teachers and/or medical professionals
    • Problems concentrating
    • Falling behind at school, college or work
    • Changes in appetite
    • Changes in personality
    • Lack of energy
    • Isolating and withdrawing themselves

Please note at this moment in time we cannot accept referrals if:

  • The child or young person has active complex mental health needs and are already actively being supported by a mental health service.
  • They are currently involved with and receiving therapy from a psychological professional (school, CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), counsellor, etc.)
  • They exhibit signs of uncontrolled aggressive behaviour
  • They have drug and/or alcohol dependencies for which they are not receiving active treatment or support
  • They need immediate crisis intervention
  • They are not registered with a local UK based GP
  • They are not a resident of the United Kingdom
  • They are currently in a period of transition (e.g. entering short-term foster/residential care)
  • They are involved with an active court case and/or if police investigations are taking place

It’s important to remember that just because a child or young person is eligible to access our services it doesn’t automatically mean we can offer them that service. A member of the Winston’s Wish team will always share the reason why a child or young person might not be suitable for our services.

We do not accept referrals to specific services.

Instead, when a referral is made a team of bereavement specialists will take a look at the information you’ve submitted and determine which service they think would be the best for the child or young person.

There might also be a time where they think a service isn’t right for a child or young person. Ultimately, we always have the young person’s best interests at heart and will only deliver the services we feel will give that young person the best and most appropriate support with their grief.

We’ll respond to referrals within 5 working days. There may be a wait time between submitting a referral and accessing a service. We work hard to try and keep this time as short as possible, however demand can be high.

But, you don’t have to wait for support. If you, or the young person in your care, would like to talk to someone in the interim, you can reach out using the helpline, live chat, email or text.

Yes. Grief doesn’t have a definitive ending and it can change over time.

You, or the young person in your care, can come back to us at any time up to the young person turns 25.

A new referral will be required and we’ll assess everything based on current circumstances.

We will only provide support if the young person is happy for us to do so. We cannot provide services without their consent.

Right now, all of our services are digital only. This is so we can help young grieving people all across the UK. Occasionally we organise face-to-face events in various parts of the country, be sure to check the website for regular updates.

All of our services are free of charge, however we charge for some items such as books and memory boxes.

Winston’s Wish is a charity and relies on donations to help us do what we do. If you’d like to know more about fundraising, click here.

We believe in empowering young people to take charge of their grief support journey with Winston’s Wish.

We advise young people to make their parent(s) or guardian(s) aware that they have made a referral to Winston’s Wish. However, this isn’t always mandatory.

A young person aged 13 or over may be permitted to make a referral to our services without prior consent of a parent or guardian. Those between the ages of 13 and 15 will be called by a member of the Winston’s Wish team and assessed to ensure they are competent and able to consent to submitting their own referral. If they aren’t able to consent we will need to speak with you directly.

Young people aged 16 or over are treated as an adult and have the ability to consent to services.

As part of our safeguarding policy there are some circumstances in which it is mandatory an adult is made aware that the young person is accessing support from Winston’s Wish.

For children aged 7 or under, it is compulsory that an adult is present during a support session.

For those aged between 8 and 15, we recommend an adult is present or suggest they check the young person in and out of their session.

Those aged 16 or over do not need an adult present, however we do recommend they aren’t home alone and have someone elsewhere in the house/school.

The information you share with us will be held in the strictest confidence. However, should you disclose information where we deem you or your child/young person to have suffered or be at risk of harm, abuse or neglect, we are legally obligated to share details with the relevant authorities.

The information shared by your child/young person in sessions with Winston’s Wish will also remain confidential with the exception of any disclosures of abuse, harm or neglect.

Having supported bereaved children and young people for over 30 years, our experience has shown that children under 7 struggle to engage in one-to-one remote individual sessions. Many are unable to find the words to communicate and find it difficult to concentrate. We are exploring ways to incorporate creative and play therapy individual sessions for this age group and hope to be able to secure funding for this type of service in the future. In the meantime, advice and support for adults supporting under 7s can be accessed through our on-demand services (helpline, live chat and email) and parent peer support groups. If suitable, enquiries for group bereavement support with children and their guardian/carers can be made.

Complete our self-referral form

To help ensure the child or young person gets the right support, referral forms must be completed in full. We are unable to accept referral forms which are not fully completed.

Before completing this referral form, please make sure you have read the FAQs above. If you have any questions or would like to talk to us first you can speak to one of our Bereavement Support Workers by phone (call 08088 020 021, open 8am-8pm, weekdays), email ( or live chat (open 3-8pm, weekdays).

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Refer a child or young person to Winston's Wish

Referrals from adults for young people over the age of 13 will not be accepted.
For young people aged 13 or over, we ask you to complete a referral form with or encourage the young person to complete their own referral using our self-referral form.

For professionals:  We encourage parents and children to complete their own referral form.  Please be aware that missing or incomplete information may cause your referral to be declined.

If you disclose information where we deem you or your child/young person to have suffered or be at risk of harm, abuse or neglect, we are legally obligated to share details with the relevant authorities. 
Contact details of the person making the referral

Please be aware that if you have not contacted any of our On Demand Services prior to completing this form, your referral may be delayed or declined.

Contact details of the parent or carer

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Child or young person's details

Please use DD/MM/YYYY format

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Please provide details about the person who has died

Please use format DD/MM/YYYY

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Hearing from Winston's Wish

We would like to share ways for you to stay connected with Winston’s Wish beyond the service you will be receiving both now and in the future. This will include news of events and ways to support our work including fundraising and volunteering. The services you receive from us will in no way be impacted by your choice to support our work.  You can opt out of these communications, should you wish, at any time.

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Connect with us

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