Children aged 7 to 17 who have lost a loved one to suicide are invited to join the next intake of ‘Alfie’s Squad,’ a safe space to make friends, try new activities, and find solace in the company of peers who have gone through similar experiences.
After five years of hard work and determination, the pilot group for Alfie’s Squad held its first welcome meeting last month, with weekly sessions delivered at The People’s Place in partnership with Everton in the Community.
Sports, quiz nights, art sessions, and exciting trips are among the activities offered during the eight-week programme. The hour-long sessions are led by fully qualified staff from Everton in the Community and are divided into two age groups: junior school (7-11) and secondary school (12-17).
With the pilot programme now underway at The People’s Place, referrals for a new cohort of Alfie’s Squad are already being accepted, with the next programme set to begin on Thursday, November 2nd, 2023.
Alfie’s Squad was born in 2017, after Alfie Fitzsimmons, then eight years old, lost his father to suicide. Motivated by his own experience, he wrote to Everton Football Club and asked them to assist him in raising funds for those less fortunate than him. He also collaborated with his mother, Allison Furlong, to establish a much-needed peer support group for children who, like himself, had been bereaved by suicide.
Allison discovered that dedicated support for children was not available in the UK after Alfie’s father died. Alfie began developing the concept on his own and has raised over £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.”
Allison’s work assisting Alfie in developing and implementing the idea was recognised earlier this year at the Merseyside Women of the Year Awards, where she was named Woman of Courage 2023.
If you would like to refer a child to 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 contact the team here and someone 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, you can visit the website here.