Bridgnorth woman illustrates book to help children cope with bereavement

A Shropshire woman has illustrated a book to help bereaved children and their families cope after the death of a loved one.

Jenny Picken (right) with Jane Foulkes (centre) and Wendy Picken (left)
Jenny Picken (right) with Jane Foulkes (centre) and Wendy Picken (left)

Jenny Picken teamed up with her daughter-in-law Wendy Picken, along with friend, Jane Foulkes, to produce It's Not Fair.

The book contains short stories about the challenges faced by children following a death in the family.

All three women found they had similar experiences dealing with young children and death.

Jane is a social worker and psychotherapist from Hereford who has spent 30 years working with children and their families, the majority of whom have been traumatised by loss.

it's Not Fair with illustrations by Jenny Picken from Bridgnorth

Wendy, Jenny's daughter-in-law, is from Basildon in Essex, and is also an experienced social worker who provides therapeutic support for bereaved children.

Meanwhile, Jenny is retired following a career in NHS paediatric services that enabled her to support families and children with complex needs. Since her retirement, Jenny continues to work with disabled children in a voluntary capacity and has developed an interest in art, particularly in painting.

She said: "It all just came together really. Wendy through her work came across children who were bereaved and couldn't cope, while Jane has had similar experiences so they put their heads together to come up with this book.

"Since retiring I've done a number of art classes so I volunteered to illustrate the book.

"We wanted it to be not just a storybook but also a resource and a tool to help children work through their emotions after experiencing a death."

it's Not Fair with illustrations by Jenny Picken from Bridgnorth

She said the book contains a short about a girl called Frankie who is very angry following the death of her mother and another story about Albie who is struggling to cope after his dad’s death.

"They are aimed at children really but they can still be used as a tool for teenagers," she said.

And Jenny says they have even had the backing of another bereavement specialist in Bridgnorth.

John Adams of Perry & Phillips Funeral Directors in the town launched a petition to get bereavement support included in the national curriculum a campaign in October last year.

Last month, his petition had attracted more than 10,000 signatures, which means the Government has to provide a response.

Mr Adams, who is also President of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), even spoke to King Charles III about his campaign after a recent invite to Buckingham Palace.

Jenny said she has spoken to Mr Adams and even gave him a copy of the book.

"It was just a coincidence that we were doing this book and at the same time John has been campaigning to get bereavement on the curriculum," she said.

"His campaign is amazing. We have spoken and I spent a lively twenty minutes talking to him about his campaign and I even gave him a copy of the book."

Mr Adams, who has recently been contacted by the Government who are keen to hold a consultation on his ideas later this year, said It's Not Fair, was "a fantastic resource".

"I did speak with Jenny and it is a really powerful book and another fantastic resource to help empower young people.

"It's a great tool and a great book to read prior to losing someone."

He added that he works with a number of charities that are in contact with bereaved children and he would "100 per cent be recommending the book".

While copies of It's Not Fair are available via Amazon priced at £7.19 for the paperback, discounts are available for local residents living in the Bridgnorth area if they contact Jenny directly by emailing:

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