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Day out for families facing tough times 

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Philomena and Janice, our support workers
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Thanks to Merlin’s Magic Wand, 12 families supported by local charity Jigsaw (South East) enjoyed a day out at Chessington World of Adventures 

Families being supported by Jigsaw (South East)’s Family Support Service were invited to enjoy a day out at Surrey theme park Chessington World of Adventures, courtesy of its charitable arm, Merlin’s Magic Wand, which aims to helps to provide magical experiences to disadvantaged children.  

Despite torrential rain, 12 families (38 people) – who are all being supported by Jigsaw (South East) because they have been bereaved or are facing the death of a family member through serious illness – braved the weather and spent the day enjoying Chessington’s zoo, sealife centre and 40 rides and attractions. 

Feedback from the families included: 


Hearing the news that someone in the family has a life-threatening illness can come as a great shock. Often adults struggle with the news and the uncertainty of the days ahead may seem overwhelming. Even spending quality time together as a family becomes difficult. 

Jigsaw (South East) helps by offering tailored practical, emotional and therapeutic support to those facing the loss of a loved one. It also provides grief support to bereaved families  and aims to bring families in a similar situation together, such as at Chessington this weekend, with others who understand what they are going through. 

Jennie Hattan, Family Support Team Manager at Jigsaw (South East), said: 

“The event was a fantastic opportunity for the families to enjoy the simple pleasure of doing something nice together – to provide a short reprise from illnesses that can, at times, feel overwhelming for them all. It was also a chance for them to meet up with their allocated support worker and raise any queries or concerns. We are so grateful to Merlin Entertainment’s charity – Merlin’s Magic Wand – for donating the tickets. We hope to arrange future family events to benefit these families facing the devastating loss of a loved one” 

Thanks also to Chessington Safari Hotel for providing a conference room which acted a useful meeting place as well as a welcome shelter from the rain.  

Based at East Court Mansion in East Grinstead since 2006, the charity offers support to children and young people who have a family member with a serious, life-limiting condition. It also provides grief support to children and young people who have experienced the death of a significant family member through illness, accident, suicide or murder (through groups in Reigate and Guildford and East Grinstead).

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