Zephyr’s centre in Nottingham supports anyone affected by pregnancy loss or the death of a baby or child. Zephyr’s feels like home; a comfortable, calm, quiet oasis on hospital grounds – a place for parents, siblings, the wider family and staff too, to come together and to belong…
Based at City Hospital, Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) and part of Nottingham Hospitals Charity, the project which is funded entirely by donations, was started by Zephyr’s parents Carly and Martin. The centre hosts bereavement counselling, drop in support, family activities and more, it also provides a much needed place for parents to meet consultants for follow up appointments. Dr Lucy Kean, Service Lead for Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Nottingham University Hospitals says:
“Before Zephyr’s, we only had clinical areas to meet families, many of which were impersonal and sometimes just inappropriate. We are very grateful to the whole team who have enabled this to come about. We signpost families to Zephyr’s all the time and wonder how we ever managed without them.”
Zephyr’s dad Martin and mum Carly, who is also Project Manager at the centre, explain why the place exists:
“It all started with love, love and a dream – our dream to start a family!
But after 40 weeks of a truly beautiful, happy and healthy pregnancy, after we’d opened our hearts and our lives to embrace and welcome our son, he died.
Everything shattered, hopes faded (hopes we know so many here have watched slip away too.)
In our raw grief we were held with such care by the hospital staff, their kindness and compassion was beyond words. Grieving the death of our baby, the whole world felt alien, we didn’t know where we belonged. Returning to the clinical wards and waiting rooms only served to make us feel more isolated and broken.
And so, a different dream began to unfurl…
Zephyr’s centre grew out of a recognition that grief is not a disease, nor something to be ‘fixed’ – that those who grieve the death of their baby or child, who need support in their darkest times, or need a place to meet for appointments, should not have to go back to the clinical hospital ward. Quite simply, what bereaved parents need is love.
We started to imagine an alternative – a better place; safe, homely and calm – a centre made by and for bereaved families, where it’s ok not to be ok, where talking about our babies and children who have died is encouraged, and where loss is acknowledged, regardless of gestation in pregnancy, regardless of age, and regardless of how long ago.
We’re all affected differently, we grieve individually, our experiences are unique – but together, there is a connection. Though our personal experience is the death of our baby, the centre is here to offer support following the death of a child as well, not only do we work with the Bereavement Midwife but we also work closely with the Child Bereavement Team – offering a space in Nottingham that hasn’t existed before.
We’re so proud to tell you today, that this dream is reality! Zephyr’s centre has been open a little over a year, and already we have welcomed over 1000 visitors.
Made possible through the loving kindness, dedication, care and support of so many bereaved parents, hospital staff, Nottingham Hospitals Charity, local businesses, volunteers, friends and family, our steering group and many others too… Zephyr’s centre is full up of love.
Thank you for reading. It’s such a privilege that Zephyr’s was nominated, and we feel truly honoured that the centre has been shortlisted amongst so many wonderful and awe inspiring folk…
with loving thanks,
Carly & Martin x
What others have said:
“Carly along with her partner Martin have worked tirelessly with NUH (Nottingham University Hospitals) to improve bereavement care in Nottingham following the loss of their 1st son Zephyr during birth. Through their grief they have helped and supported 100’s of people and Zephyr’s is now a funded support hub in the grounds of Nottingham City Hospital-away from the pain of the maternity unit. It includes a kitchen and 3 break out rooms (including a library) perfect for counselling and creative activities.”