CHILDREN with relatives who are extremely ill or have lost a loved one were given a chance to have some fun and forget about their worries.

A special party was held at Little Havens Children’s Hospice, in Thundersley, at the weekend for youngsters who have either lost family members or have a relative who is being treated for a life-limiting illness at the children’s hospice in Daws Heath Road, or Fair Havens Hospice, in Westcliff.

The Crafty Kids, aged five to 11-years-old, and VIPs, aged 11 to 16-years-old, are two groups run by Havens Hospices that offer support to children when they need it most.

Jane Harwood, play specialist at Little Havens, said the groups meet a number of times throughout the year and take part in a variety of fun and therapeutic activities.

“It gives them the opportunity to talk with children and young people who know how they're feeling,” she said.

“It’s very important because although they will have close friends at school, they will not have been through anything like that, they don't know what these youngsters are going through.

“It has a big impact on their lives for many years.”

Mrs Harwood said it is not only bereavement that is devastating for children, but the time leading up to a loved one's death is just as difficult to cope with due to that person's high medical needs and dependency on parents.

She added: “With children at Little Havens it can go on for many years and siblings, to some degree, miss out on things. “That's why it’s so important to meet with other youngsters because they understand their frustration and loneliness at times.

“Parents also find it really useful that their children can come along, talk and express their feelings.”

The event was sponsored by financial services firm J P Morgan.