Children aged seven to 17 who are bereaved by suicide are being invited to join the next intake of ‘Alfie’s Squad’, a safe space to make friends, explore new activities and find solace in the company of peers who share similar experiences.
The first welcome meeting of the pilot group for Alfie’s Squad took place last month, after five years of hard work and determination, with weekly sessions being delivered at The People’s Place, in partnership with Everton in the Community.
The 8-week programme includes a wide range of activities such as sports, quiz nights, art sessions and exciting trips. Led by fully qualified staff from Everton in the Community, the hour-long sessions are split into two age groups with one focused on children of junior school age (7-11) and a secondary school group (12-17).
With the pilot programme now underway at The People’s Place, referrals are already being taken for a new cohort of Alfie’s Squad, with the next programme expected to start on Thursday 2 November 2023.
The idea for Alfie’s Squad came in 2017, after 8-year-old Alfie Fitzsimmons lost his dad to suicide.
Motivated by his own experience, He wrote to Everton Football Club to ask if they would help him to fundraise for those less fortunate than him and worked with his mum, Allison Furlong, to establish a much-needed peer support group for children who, like himself, had been bereaved by suicide.
After Alfie lost his dad, Allison found that dedicated support of this kind for children was not available anywhere in the UK. Alfie set about developing the idea himself and has raised more than £30,000 to fund it.
Speaking of the first sessions, Allison said, “Alfie was a 9-year-old little boy when he presented his plans to Everton in the Community. Over the past 5 years, it would have been easier for him to just get on with his own life, but he was determined to make his plans a reality as he was so worried about all the other bereaved children who had nowhere to turn to.
“Last month, at the grand old age of 14, his years of planning and fundraising were rewarded with the launch of our pilot group for children and their families. I nearly burst with pride when the parents were thanking Alfie for getting the group started.
“He still doesn’t really get what all the fuss is about, and he told me afterwards that nobody needs to thank him. He is just doing what needs to be done. I am so proud of him, and we are both determined to help as many young people as possible.”
Earlier this year, Allison’s work helping Alfie to develop and implement the idea was recognised at the Merseyside Women of the Year Awards, where she was named Woman of Courage 2023.
If you would like to refer a child into Alfie’s Squad, the process is very simple. All you have to do is fill out the referral form below and a member of the team will contact you within 72 hours to arrange for you and your child to attend a triage session with a counsellor.
The triage is necessary to make sure that Alfie’s Squad is the best way for you to support your child at this point. The form is simple, and the triage process is completed in a sensitive manner.
If you would like to refer yourself to our adult group, please use the contact us form and the team will get back to you and talk you through what to expect and answer any questions you may have.
To find out more about Alfie’s Squad and the referral process, visit: alfiessquad.org/referral/