A SOLIHULL mother, who tragically lost her daughter to meningitis, has decided to dedicate her life to helping others like her.
Ten years after the death of her six-month old daugher to the disease, Jasvinder Bharj from Hall Green has found the strength to become a ‘befriender’ for the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF).
Following a training day, the MRF ‘befrienders’ will now be available to offer support to others affected by meningitis and septicaemia via the charity’s helpline – using their own personal experiences to help others through the difficult time.
Jasvinder’s daughter Amrit tragically died from the disease in April 2006, after doctors were unable to diagnose her quickly enough.
Speaking about the ordeal, Jasvinder said: “Amrit was very grizzly and lethargic one day and she had a fever and was not feeding. As there was no rash the doctors did not diagnose meningitis quickly enough, and by the time it was diagnosed, it was too late to save her.
“In the following weeks I wanted to find out as much as I could about the terrible disease that had robbed my daughter of her precious life, so I spent hours on the internet reading about it.
“In a strange sort of way, it helped me to feel close to Amrit.
“It was here I came across Meningitis Research Foundation.”
Jasvinder became interested in the support offered to bereaved families and friends, and contacted the MRF’s helpline several times to talk to a friendly voice for support through her darkest moments.
She added: “The one time which I remember clearly was the first Christmas after Amrit’s death.
“I phoned and cried to the person on the other end, it was so reassuring to know I was not alone.
“Knowing how much that helped me through those dark days, I chose to become a befriender for MRF so that I can help other parents who have lost a child to this dreadful disease.”
The training day ensures that those affected by meningitis can receive peer support and is being funded by a grant of £3,500 from the Morrisons Foundation, run by the supermarket.
The MRF has nearly 150 trained volunteer befrienders who have a wide range of experiences of meningitis and septicaemia – from immediate issues following bereavement to coping with a child’s or their own disability.
MRF head of support, Rob Dawson said: “We are very proud of our befriending network and we’re grateful to our members like Jasvinder who give their time to support other people dealing with this devastating disease.
“The grant from Morrisons Foundation has made the training day in Birmingham possible and it’s thanks to funding like this that we can keep the network running.
“We rely on donations to provide all of our vital services.”
The Morrisons Foundation, a charity set up by the supermarket, awards grants for charity projects which make a positive difference to people’s lives and since launching in 2015 has funded a wide range of projects, supporting charities in local communities across the UK.