Ormiston Families Stars is a children’s bereavement support service for young people finding it difficult to cope with the loss of someone significant in their life.


Stars offers specialist bereavement support and counselling to those aged 4-19 in Cambridgeshire who may be experiencing difficulties following the loss of someone close to them, such as a friend or family member.

Bereavement can be extremely challenging to deal with at any age, but for young people focusing on their education, making plans for the future and connecting with the world as they grow, feelings of grief can be particularly severe.

It can be hugely beneficial for young people experiencing bereavement to have support from someone outside of their family, who may also be grieving, to enable them to share their thoughts and emotions. If these thoughts are left unexpressed, young people can become angry, disruptive and lose focus at school.

Stars’ counsellors in Cambridgeshire listen to the emotional needs of young people and encourage them to express painful feelings through creative play and work. Counsellors work one-to-one with young people, normally for six sessions or longer.

These sessions help young people to access and manage unspoken feelings and make sense of what has happened in their lives. By improving communication about their feelings with family members, young people are able to reduce feelings of isolation and create the possibility of hope for the future while cherishing memories of a lost loved one.

Research* has shown that bereavement at a young age can lead to a number of negative consequences, including anxiety, depression, anger, lower self-esteem and external loss of control. This can lead to disengagement from school, alcohol or substance misuse and can ultimately have a long-term detrimental impact on a young person’s future. All our counsellors are highly trained bereavement counsellors who are specialists in child bereavement.

*Thomas Coram Research Unit 2014

The pre-bereavement counselling service is currently under review and we are unable to accept any new pre-bereavement referrals. However, families may continue to contact us for advice and support. Please check our website regularly for updates on this service.


Ormiston Families Stars is open to referrals for any child or young person of 4-19 years of age, or up to 24 years of age in special circumstances, whose home or school is in Cambridgeshire, and who has experienced the death of a close family member or other significant person.

Once we have accepted a referral, we will arrange an initial assessment with one of our counsellors. Depending on the outcome of the assessment we may then offer one-to-one counselling. We provide up to six sessions of counselling for most cases and up to nine for more complex cases.

In addition, we provide telephone advice to families and schools supporting children and young people experiencing or facing close bereavement.

We are not an emergency health care intervention service. We do not provide an urgent response to acute mental health issues arising or aggravated by bereavement. Please contact your GP for a referral to NHS mental health services if you think that a child or young person is acutely unwell and needing urgent attention.

We are unable to accept referrals for children and young people who live in Peterborough. Referrals from Peterborough for young people aged 13 and above can be made to Centre 33. For younger children, please ask your GP, school or family worker for advice.

To make a referral, please download and complete the referral form linked below and email this to talktostars@ormistonfamilies.org.uk. If you have any difficulties completing this form, please phone 01223 292276 or email talktostars@ormistonfamilies.org.uk. You can also use these contact details to ask for advice or support. If we are unable to answer the phone, please leave a confidential message and we will call you back as soon as we can.

DOWNLOAD: Ormiston Families Stars Referral Form

We are currently experiencing a high level of referrals and are managing a backlog of cases from the pandemic. We are working through these as fast as we can but have limited resources. Waiting times for an initial assessment are currently around 18 weeks, but we may see some cases sooner depending on the circumstances. Please check our website regularly for updates.

We also recommend the resources available at winstonswish.org and childbereavementuk.org.