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Rainbows supports National Sibling Day

“We can’t change their situation but hopefully we can help them manage their emotions and become more resilient.”

Sally Blower is the Sibling Support Worker at our charity, she is also a qualified play therapist. After extensive training she has developed her role within our hospice designed to help siblings to process emotions and articulate their problems to others. 

To celebrate National Sibling Day on April 10, Sally has spoken about some of the work we offer. These children are generally siblings of those living with a life-limiting illness or those whose brother or sister has died. They are going through life changing experiences, often feeling vulnerable, left out and misunderstood.

Sibling support takes many forms at our hospice and can include one to one tailored support, group support or general support from staff while siblings are resident at our hospice with their brother or sister. Support is offered in some form no matter how old siblings are as we are here to support the whole family.

More formal one to one support sessions can look like normal playtime as tools such as sand, paints, puppets, musical instruments, books, games and representations of life such as cars and dolls are used. But Sally will be making observations to help her gain insights into the child’s world, feelings and emotions. 

“A child knows what they need and they choose what they are going to play with,” said Sally. “If it is messy and chaotic, they may be showing us that that is what their life is like. They might be playing with puppets but the character might be completely different to them, shy or noisy. This would be how they test out different characteristics to see if it would work for them in real life.

“We might suggest things, but they lead it. They might not want to talk about things at the beginning but as their trust grows, they might open up more. Or they may never want to talk about things. It is important to remember, it is not always about talking, there isn’t the need to always put it in to words. 

“These children go through so much. We can’t change what is happening in their lives. Their lives are still the same but if we can give them that hour to express themselves, it is a huge help to them.”

To help Rainbows fund its sibling support, visit rainbows.co.uk/donate