Rainbows Bereavement Support GB, the national charity, has moved to play its part in the wake of the tragic fatal shootings in the Keyham area of Plymouth earlier this year.
One of Rainbow’s main local representatives in the area, Andrea Rodgers, immediately made herself available to local schools to offer support and advice to children and young people affected by the tragedy after a school commissioner got in touch.
Andrea, who is a Registered Director for Rainbows in the South West, subsequently joined forces with an educational consultant in the area, Suzi Franklin.
Together, they worked at developing targeted resources and practical advice to local schools and their children, struggling to get to grips with the fallout from the worst mass shooting in the UK for more than a decade.
Two women, two men and a three-year-old girl were shot dead by a gunman in Keyham on a balmy summer evening in mid-August. The killer, Jake Davidson, subsequently turned the gun on himself and took his own life.
The tragedy, which sent shockwaves through a traditionally quiet and peaceful area, highlighted the need to provide help and support, in particular to children and young people, in the aftermath of unexpected, devastating events.
Rainbows Bereavement Support GB is a charity that has been operating in England, Scotland and Wales since 1992 and is based in Liverpool and London. Its staff, mainly volunteers, provide their services to children who are having to cope with all types of bereavement and loss.
That could include the loss of a close family member or relative, but it might also involve divorce, separation or another type of life-changing loss.
Andrea says she was contacted by Sarah Barreto, the Diocesan School Commissioner for Plymouth, to tell her that her contact details had been provided to all catholic schools in the area, part of a large multi-academy trust, called CAST.
One of the CAST schools is in Keyham and close to where the evening’s events unfolded. As well as advice and support, Andrea says she offered Rainbows’ free Silver Linings crisis support package as an additional resource to help.
“One of my major concerns was the impact on children where this shocking event happened, or where what happened was being discussed by adults, in earshot of vulnerable children, or via the news, social media or through other social situations,” Andrea says.
She notes that Keyham is also historically an area of deprivation and that after the tragedy the local MP for Plymouth, Luke Pollard, successfully lobbied parliament for financial support and long-term funding for the area.
“As the shock subsides, the needs of the young people will become more apparent, and I am hoping some schools will take up Rainbows in one form or another,” Andrea says.
Although Rainbows developed historically as a provider of bereavement support and resources to catholic schools, it is keen to continue to expand further into non-denominational schools.
Rainbows currently operates in 1,400 schools in England, Scotland and Wales and is in the process of trying to raise £15,000 through a crowdfunding venture in order to provide its services for free to 25 schools in some of Britain’s most deprived areas.