Coventry & Warwickshire

The Coventry teenager who wants to counter grief with fun

Abi, Paul, Jane and David Hutchinson Image copyright Abi Hutchinson
Image caption Abi Hutchinson, pictured with her dad Paul, mum Jane and brother David, will start work on her project in the summer

A 17-year-old girl who wanted to "break the stereotype" of how teenagers seek help after a death has won an award.

Abi Hutchinson was 14 when her father died suddenly. She shunned professional help, fearing having to "sit in a circle and talk about feelings".

The teenager from Coventry has devised a project aimed at enabling bereaved teenagers to come together to enjoy days out to relax and have fun.

Abi won £500 at the Lions International Young Ambassador awards for her idea.

The A-level student volunteers at the Shakespeare Hospice in Warwickshire and represented the Shakespeare Lions Club at the Lions district finals.

Judges felt her project would help teenagers tackle feelings of isolation and build friendships in a non-traditional way.

Image copyright The Shakespeare Hospice
Image caption Abi Hutchinson won her award for her idea to help young people cope with bereavement

Abi's father, Paul, was 51 when he died from a heart attack at their home.

She said she did not get much support from her school after his death and began misbehaving.

But additional stress with her GCSEs made her realise she had not dealt with her loss and wanted to find a different way to do so.

"I want to break the stereotype of sitting in a circle talking about your feelings," she said.

"That's what I assumed it would be like so I didn't seek any help at the time."

Image copyright Abi Hutchinson
Image caption Abi's father died suddenly when she was 14

Her ideas included bereaved children having days out at theme parks, cinemas or meals and then talking about their experiences and feelings by writing a letter or a speech.

Abi said she would also like to go into schools to talk about what young people there have been through.

"It's about coming together in a different way... I want the group to be run by the people taking part in it, it doesn't need to have real structure," she said.

The group will be open to teenagers aged between 13 and 18 who have suffered bereavement in the past five to 10 years.

If you or someone you know is struggling with issues raised by this, you can find more information on organisations offering support on the BBC Action Line website.

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