A charity set up to help bereaved parents at the critical time of baby loss – including over 1000 families in the Nottingham area - has announced it will be forced to close its doors in three months if it is unable to raise enough funding.
Since 2005, SiMBA has supported more than 50,000 individuals and families across the UK and Ireland providing them with invaluable support during their critical time of loss.
In Nottingham Simba has worked with hospitals including Nottingham University Hospital and Queen’s Medical Centre.
But now, the combination of a surge in requests for Memory Boxes from hospitals across the UK in 2022, a significant shortfall in expected fundraising income, and soaring costs of producing, distributing, and donating them to every family who needs one, has left the charity running desperately low on funds.
Despite an urgent appeal at the start of last December SiMBA still needs to raise £50,000 to keep its operation going.
Sara Fitzsimmons, Chief Executive and co-founder of SiMBA, said: “Our wonderful charity, so appreciated and loved by the thousands of families who have received our support over the years, is now in trouble.
“Our costs have increased faster than ever before, while at the same time we’ve seen a huge growth in requests for our precious Memory Boxes from families and healthcare professionals in maternity and neonatal wards across the UK. As a result, we are devastated to say that we could face closing our operation unless we receive vital funds by the end of March 2023.
“So, we are making an unprecedented appeal to the public, organisations, and businesses to help us through donations; fundraising; sharing our story, or in whatever way they can, so we survive this critical period and continue to support bereaved families when they need us most.
The charity has already undertaken cost-cutting measures, including reduced hours and salaries.
SiMBA provides support to any bereaved parents who lose a baby at any stage of their pregnancy or around the time of birth, offering a range of services.
It provides Memory Boxes to bereaved parents to help gather timeless and precious memories of their child. They contain items such as clay imprint kits; birth acknowledgement certificates; a letter from another parent who has also experienced child loss, and items knitted by volunteers such as teddies and blankets.
The boxes are donated to hospitals and hospices across the UK and Ireland so they can be gifted to parents on request, helping them immeasurably at their critical time of loss.
More than 50,000 Memory Boxes have been gifted by the charity since 2005, with an 83% increase in demand in the past three years. The charity has predicted requests for another 11,000 Memory Boxes from across the UK this year.
There were 2,638 stillbirths in the UK in 2020. An estimated 1 in 5 pregnancies ended in miscarriage in the same year. Estimates suggest there are 250,000 miscarriages every year in the UK, and around 11,000 emergency admissions for ectopic pregnancies. Neonatal deaths are around 2.2 deaths per 1000 live births.
John Webb and his partner Kate from Nottingham were helped by SiMBA after the deaths of their three babies between 2020 and 2022. John said: “Over the births, and deaths, of our three children, we found the memory boxes vital in our support. Although you leave hospital without your baby, you do get to leave with some memories and keepsakes that you can treasure. The emotional impact of having something tangible is hard to put into words.
“Without the work of SiMBA, we would have left the hospital empty-handed, and with no support to start thinking about what memories you can make in hospital. We’re so grateful for their work.”
The charity highlights being able to acknowledge and grieve the loss of a baby is essential, and is linked to overall long-term coping and healing, and the prevention of serious mental health impacts, easing the pressure on the mental health services of the NHS.
To donate to #SaveSiMBA or to find out other ways you can help support the charity at this critical time, please visit simbacharity.org.uk today.