Students bring joy to bereaved youngsters

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Selfless students are helping bring a little bit of joy to Sheffield youngsters dealing with the loss of a loved one this Christmas.

A Nice Time on Saturdays – ANTS – is a society run by volunteers at Sheffield University which provides fun activities for children aged eight to 11 who are coping with bereavement.

Regular day trips and arts and crafts workshops offer an opportunity for the children to meet others that are in the same situation.

The events allow them to express themselves through innovative experiences and adventurous pursuits.

Project leader Rachael Hart, aged 20, joined the group in October 2010 in her first year.

She said: “I have seen how a close bereavement can leave families struggling to get back to normality and ANTS helps do this.

“The children are able to come and have a good time while knowing all of the other children are going through the same thing as them.

“As soon as I found out about ANTS I immediately knew it was something I would love to be involved in.”

Children, and their parents or guardians, are referred to ANTS from various agencies including Sheffield Cruise Bereavement Support, St Luke’s Hospice and schools.

The society was first established in 2005 and is now run by a team of 10 dedicated student volunteers.

The free sessions are held throughout the year and youngsters enjoy a host of activities from T-shirt painting to puppet making to Laser Quest and tobogganing.

The volunteers work with the youngsters on a one-to-one basis to ensure that each child is given individual attention.