JOEL, a Worksop based charity, was founded in 2012 by Matthew and Emma Pearson after the loss of their twin boys, who were stillborn in September 2011. JOEL is a combination of their twin boys’ names: James and Noel. JOEL was founded after the couple’s first Rainbow Baby, Sebastian, was born (a baby born after loss is known as a rainbow baby) and with a single aim of supporting families through conception, pregnancy and parenting after the devastation of baby loss.
Through JOEL, Matthew and Emma’s vision was to help build a community of support by providing a space for families to come together and for them to be with people who had similar experiences so that they were not alone facing their ‘new normal’. JOEL wanted to help break the taboo associated with baby loss and to celebrate families as a whole.
Fundraising and awareness events helped to secure regular spaces for families to come together to receive support. They also helped create a range of resources to support families, not just locally, but nationally and internationally. A private Facebook group was set up to provide families with regular peer support, and this enabled people from all over the world to interact with one another.
JOEL became a registered charity in 2014. Monthly ‘Chasing Rainbows’ groups were started so parents and families could meet others and for their children to play and craft together. Mindfulness activities, including craft days and family yoga sessions helped to provide holistic support to those who attend.
Bassetlaw Hospital was approached by JOEL to support them in the complete renovation of Room 5 within the hospital’s labour ward. Room 5 was the room that Matthew and Emma spent their final moments with their twin boys; it was a room that needed some love and attention, but that would eventually be used by families to spend precious time with their babies in a comfortable, home-from-home environment. JOEL called for the support of the local community and raised the £30,000 needed in less than 10 months so the room could be transformed.
The Poplars Church created a new home for JOEL and continues to support them by providing meeting spaces and helping spread much-needed awareness of the work they do.
In 2015, JOEL was successful in securing £50,000 through the Peoples Project Lottery Fund. This helped to create new support resources, including a family support pack and a certificate of life, a pregnancy-after-loss journal, support literature for siblings at school, and support literature for employers and employees returning to work.
The funding also supported ‘Behind the Smile’ – a book written by Emma which tells the story of her personal growth and finding a ‘new normal’ after baby loss. Through JOEL’s website, all support resources can be requested and posted out.
In 2017 Matthew started JOEL Dads, a support group for dads with an aim to provide a safe space for dads to meet others and be able to talk about their feelings if they wanted to. The JOEL Dads group meets frequently and arranges activities to support both physical and mental wellbeing. Support for men, especially with the anxieties linked to baby loss and through pregnancy and parenting after loss is essential. JOEL is passionate about making sure men receive the support they need.
JOEL provides extensive face-to-face support for families at a monthly peer support group and also works closely with a local counselling service, and helps to fund sessions for families to receive counselling if they need it. Monthly walk-and-talk meetings help families with a space to be at one with nature and so they can receive peer support whilst enjoying a gentle walk.
JOEL is keen to offer a range of other support sessions which help to build a range of skills for life after baby loss. Funded Basic First Aid courses have been set up and their family yoga sessions make a welcome return in November and every month throughout 2023. Please see the event section on their Facebook page for more details.
JOEL celebrated its 10th birthday in September and everyone involved is extremely proud to be able to continue the much-needed support for families through pregnancy and parenting after baby loss. JOEL is always on the lookout for volunteers to help with fundraising events, and for new trustees to help strengthen the expertise and passion within the board, and so that they can continue to provide support to as many families as possible.
If you, or anyone you know would like to receive support from JOEL, or if you are interested in becoming a JOEL trustee or volunteer, please get in touch. For more information, visit www.joeltcp.org, or see Facebook – JOEL – The Complete Package, Twitter @TCPJoel and Instagram joeltcp.