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More Bears of Hope for Hunter families, thanks to Newcastle Permanent

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For Newcastle Permanent’s Nicola Rowett, today’s donation to Bears of Hope meant something extra special.

The financial institution’s CommunityAssist program opted to aid the not-for-profit organisation – that provides counselling, support groups and resources for parents in regional NSW who have experienced the loss of their baby through miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal or infancy – to the tune of $14,000.

The timing of the generous gesture was apt, too, with Mother’s Day just around the corner.

“That can often be a tough time for women,” Bears of Hope co-founder Toni Watson said.

“Access to support is difficult for people in regional areas, so we offer resources as well as free, one-on-one and couple counselling via telehealth.

“This funding from Newcastle Permanent is vital to us being able to meet the increase in our support services being accessed, especially during heightened times of isolation.

“It will also allow Bears of Hope to continue providing families with hope and assistance to navigate the ongoing challenges they will face.

“We offer them an instant connection to a community of support ready for them to lean on.

“Our grief counsellors have lived experience and we walk with families on their healing journey.”

Ms Rowett knows first-hand of the help Bears of Hope provides to families who have lost a child.

The 29-year-old mum-of-three’s daughter Luna was stillborn in June.

Nicola Rowett and Toni Watson.

She said Bears of Hope provided her with recourses, counselling and, importantly, connection with others.

“It was really helpful to connect with other families who unfortunately have suffered a loss of a child through pregnancy and infant loss,” the Newcastle Permanent premium banking manager explained.

“With the help from Bears of Hope, I was able explain Luna’s death to my two older children Sadie and Jonah and help with their feelings of losing their baby sister.”

Newcastle Permanent employees donate approximately $60,000 a year to charities via payroll deductions.

Staff nominate charities they believe deserve support and then vote to select four annually to receive funding.

“I was so happy when my colleagues supported my nomination of Bears of Hope,” Ms Rowett said.

“I felt so much support and it was such a lovely feeling knowing they wanted to support other families going through pregnancy and infant loss.”

Ms Rowett said there were many ways to assist a family member, friend or colleague as well.

“Initially, just being there – in person or via a message or card – really helps,” she explained.

“Dropping off food, helping with other children or cleaning is practical and welcome support.

“I want people to remember Luna and not feel awkward talking about her.

“They should use the baby’s name and include them on cards to a family, ask questions about the baby and remember special dates such as birthdays and due dates, as they would for other children.”

According to the latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, every day in Australia, six babies are stillborn and two die within 28 days of birth (neonatal death).

Also, it’s estimated that one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Bears of Hope will host High Teas for Bereaved Mothers in the lead up to Mother’s Day in various regional centres.

People can also donate a bear to a grieving family.

Bears of Hope offers a range of support events throughout the year, including BearDs of Hope for the Dads and Choosing Hope walks in October to coincide with National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month.

For details, resources and support for families, employers and health professionals on baby or infant loss, or to volunteer or donate, visit www.bearsofhope.org.au or phone 1300 11 HOPE.

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