Award-winning south west estate agents and chartered surveyors Whitton & Laing have generously donated £1884 to Exeter-based ‘Balloons’, a charity who help support bereaved children and their families. The sum represented the year the independent estate agency was established and their way of giving back to the local community as part of the firm’s 135th anniversary celebrations.
Balloons, an independently run charity, provides bespoke 1:1 pre and post-bereavement support to children and young people (C&YP) aged 5-25 living in Exeter, Mid and East Devon. It also supports their families by providing a telephone helpline, organising family activities and events. In addition they deliver childhood grief training to local agencies to help them deal with common themes and issues such as managing emotions, e.g. anger and anxiety.
Whitton & Laing established in 1884, has offices in Exeter and Exmouth with a dedicated team of 45 staff offering estate agency, lettings, surveys and valuations and project management. The privately-owned firm is also one of the largest block management companies in the South West.
Alison Whitfield, Partner – Whitton & Laing said: “We donate to Devon-based charities on a regular basis and in celebration of our 135th anniversary we wanted to do something extra special to mark this significant milestone. The partners came up with the idea of donating £1884, to reflect the year we started, to a smaller worthy local cause where this sum would make a real difference to the charity.” She adds: “We looked at a number of charities and couldn’t think of a better fit than ‘Balloons’. Our south west offices are based in Exeter and East Devon, the same geographic reach as that of the charity, and the amazing work they do really touched all of our hearts.”
The charity was first conceived by a small group of healthcare professionals who didn’t have anywhere to refer bereaved children for special support, and start-up funding was secured from the Big Lottery in February 2007. National lottery funding ends in Nov 2020 and provides 50% of ‘Balloons’ funds and the charity relies on this as well other funding and a small amount of grants.
Referrals to the charity come from the police; hospices; GP’s; hospitals; self-referral and social services as well as local schools and direct from family. In 2018 they worked with 161 children and young people, supporting over 400 families.
The donation of £1884 to ‘Balloons’ who are located at Base Point Business Centre (Exeter), means the charity can reimburse travel costs for all its grief support workers to enable them to visit bereaved children over a period of two months.
CEO Sara Bennett is the only full-time member of staff at the charity, supported by four part-time, and 50 volunteers. Sara said: “We are thrilled to be receiving £1,884 from Whitton & Laing to support our work with bereaved children and young people. We are the only organisation in our geographical area delivering this kind of service, it’s vital therefore to have the support of the local community and businesses such as Whitton & Laing. As a small and local charity, a donation likes this makes a massive difference, enabling us to go out into our community and support even more children struggling to come to terms with the death of Mum or Dad, or a sibling. Most of the grief support workers work with one child at a time and the annual cost for this is £140,000, so the generous donation from this wonderful local business is very important to us. She adds: “This money will enable grief support workers to get to the children – if they can’t get to the children the support simply can’t take place’. From the bottom of our hearts, and on behalf of those children whose lives have taken a different course to the ones they thought they were on, a HUGE thank-you to the partners and staff at Whitton & Laing!”