Balloons Devon

Balloons Devon

At a glance


  • Children / families
  • Counselling / advice
  • Health and well being / research and care
  • Mental health
  • Young people

Other details

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Balloons provides pre- and post-bereavement support to children and young people (C&YP) aged 5-25 living in Exeter, Mid & East Devon. We also support their families by providing our telephone helpline and our family events programme, and we deliver childhood grief training to local agencies. We are the only organisation in our geographical area delivering this support and have been providing a service since 2006.

Research clearly indicates that the death of a significant loved one can have a profoundly negative impact. C&YP who are not supported have poorer health and educational outcomes, are more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour and enter the criminal justice system, have higher teenage pregnancy rates and are more prone to depression, anxiety, self-harm and attempted and successful suicide. The most common reason for school exclusion before age 9 is bereavement (Home Office). 70% of men in prison suffered a broken attachment in childhood through bereavement (NACRO). The challenge is to intervene so that these negative health, educational & social outcomes are mitigated against.


1:1 support to bereaved C&YP - we work with C&YP when they have experienced catastrophic loss, where death is a result of murder, suicide or a fatal accident. Over 50% of our work is where a parent dies. We also support C&YP when a sibling has died. Our 1:1 support work is bespoke, responding to the unique circumstances of each individual C&YP. Volunteer Grief Support Workers (GSWs) support the C&YP through their grieving and healing process, resulting in a range of positive outcomes including the ability of the C&YP to maintain emotional and social health and to stay positively engaged in family and school life.


Activity Days – after 1:1 support many C&YP attend our Activity Days, participating in a range of activities to enhance their personal sense of wellbeing in a safe environment with others who have had similar bereavement experiences; reducing feelings of isolation and enabling bereaved C&YP to physically challenge themselves in a supported environment. The varied nature of each activity day ensures that C&YP achieve several successes, enhancing emotional, physical and social wellbeing. Many bereaved C&YP experience feelings of exclusion in group situations and suffer from a loss of confidence when tackling new or challenging situations. The Activity Days act as a springboard in lessening those feelings.

Telephone helpline – our helpline provides vital comfort, advice, information and coping ideas for families trying to manage the impact of bereavement or coping with the pre-bereavement phase. Care givers contact us to seek advice on how to help their children to cope and what they might do together as a family to manage the very distressing situation they must face.

Training for partners and local agencies - we provide childhood grief training for schools, GP surgeries, police, youth offending teams, hospices etc., equipping those agencies with the skills and knowledge to better support grieving C&YP and their families. We are building and enabling a strong network of child-centred agencies who can work in partnership to minimise the damage that unprocessed childhood grief can cause.

Partnership working – we work closely with partners who work with vulnerable C&YP, thus providing improved networks of care for those C&YP. We deliver our support independently, but we are part of the Devon Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub and VOYC Devon, the umbrella body to enhance the quality of services for C&YP in the voluntary sector.

Current opportunities

Devon, EX2 5JL

The Exeter-based Balloons charity supports bereaved children and young people when someone significant in their lives dies. We are a small charity...