An author from Wrexham is raising funds to publish a book which will help children who are experiencing loss and bereavement.
Caroline Blair, who is currently a Social Work student at Wrexham Glyndwr University, began working on her book “When Clouds Become Rainbows” last winter, and, with the assistance of a group of people across the region, has drawn together a manuscript which she hopes to publish later this year or early in 2021.
She said: “’When Clouds become Rainbows’ is a short, rhyming story for young children who are experiencing loss.
“It can be incredibly hard for youngsters to process bereavement, understand what has happened, and for adults to have those difficult and complex conversations.
“It may be any loss, from a parent, to sibling, grandparent, friend, animal - my motivation was the loss of my sister in my childhood. However, families, charities or professionals can also use the book with young children to support them after various bereavement experiences – and help them understand it is okay to feel the way they are feeling.
“I wanted it to be a child-friendly way of explaining and processing loss as it is a difficult subject.”
The initial work on developing the book began when Caroline was preparing a university essay at Glyndwr’s Edward Llwyd Centre late in 2019 – and found herself, instead, beginning her manuscript.
She said: “Funnily enough, I wrote it in the university library on my laptop. When I went in, my aim was to complete my essay – and while the essay didn't get completed that day, the book was properly started.
“I had various notes scribbled down on paper and decided that afternoon to type it all up in a document. I had it saved for a little while before deciding to approach a few people, one being Cruse Bereavement Care North Wales.
“A gentleman there was incredibly helpful and has been the one to help source my illustrator, who is so kindly giving her spare time to do the pictures to support the project. Once I was in touch with them and had a support network around me to complete the book it just progressed from there.”
The book has been designed as a simple way to discuss bereavement and loss – and Caroline has worked to ensure its messages are easily understandable.
She added: “’When Clouds Become Rainbows’ is something you can incorporate into the child's day quite easily as a picture book.
“This could be during story time at home, or at an appropriate part of the day - and it won't seem as daunting to a child with the words and pictures.
“I am in no way saying adults shouldn't have honest conversations with children about death or in any way avoid a situation. It is best to be honest and open.
“However, I believe - having been younger when I was trying to understand loss - something like this would have been quite helpful at the time. That was my motivation to start writing.
“I do enjoy creative writing anyway, reading and like to write some poetry from time to time, so when deciding how to set up the book, a short rhyming style just flowed quite naturally when I put pen to paper.”
As the project has progressed, Caroline and the small team she has drawn together have developed the project to a point where they are now seeking funding to help its production as a physical book– with copies intended to be distributed to a series of charities which work alongside young people in North Wales, North West England and the West Midlands.
Caroline said: “We have taken our time to get it right as there is no immediate rush. It has been a work in progress side-project until it is ready to be published.
“We wanted the most appropriate resource for the children - and that is something that can take time to ensure we are happy with the final result. It will hopefully be later this year or early 2021 when it is available and donated to the charities.
“I have only just really started mentioning it to people, for a while it has been a project I have kept to myself as I wanted to make sure I definitely had an illustrator and publisher available and that the book could be turned into a hard-copy.
“Now all the main aspects of that are finalised, and it is now approaching the time to raise some funds - if possible -towards the publication of the book.
“I have started to publicise it more, verbally, on my social media and via GoFundMe.”
Caroline has already identified a number of regional charities which she is hoping to offer copies of the books to – including one where she has volunteered since becoming a student.
She added: “When I had some extra time in my first year of University, I wanted to do some volunteering, as prior to this when working in my full-time role, I didn't have the spare.
“I approached Hope House Children's Hospice in Oswestry, as I value the work they do and the much-needed support they offer children and their families who are going through such difficult times.
“It is a wonderful place and whenever I have visited, it is always happy which is something that I just love about it and it makes it the special place it is.
“The nurses, care staff and all the team greet you with a smile and they make an unbearable situation for families that little more bearable. I was also aware they do have a sibling support team here too.”
Caroline has also decided to offer copies of the book to Alder Hey Children’s hospital – which helped treat her sister – and to Cruse Bereavement Care in Colwyn Bay, whose staff member helped with the initial development of the book.
She added: “Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool are an incredible place – the hospital was where my sister, Victoria was treated during her illness.
“Cruse Bereavement Care support individuals experiencing many kinds of bereavement, and another organisation who would be able to use the book as a resource.
“I contacted them when I completed the first draft of the book and the gentleman I spoke with was very helpful and supportive of the charity project.
“Of course, other organisations can access the book once it is ready too.”
Anyone who wants to help Caroline with the development of the book can do so by donating through her GoFundMe page at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/charity-bereavement-book-for-children
Caroline added: “I can't say I wanted a big reaction personally for the project, for me I don't need recognition.
“It is all for charity and I will just be satisfied if it helps just one child or family in the future. That will mean it has been a success - and I'd have achieved my goal.”