Alfie's Squad: I launched 'life changing' support group after losing my dad to suicide

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Alfie Fitzsimmons has raised more than £30,000 to support young people bereaved by suicide.

Alfie Fitzsimmons was just eight years old when he lost his dad to suicide in 2017. Searching for support to deal with his grief, Alfie and his mum, Allison Furlong, found that dedicated services for children bereaved by suicide just didn’t seem to exist.

Motivated by his experience, Alfie, who is from Wavertree, decided he would set up a support group himself and raised more than £30,000 to fund it. He explained: “We couldn’t find a single group for children bereaved by suicide anywhere in the UK. I decided to step up and sort it out myself. I figured there must be other children like me, who want to speak to others in the same situation.” After five years of planning, the pilot programme for ‘Alfie’s Squad’ launched in autumn 2023, helping dozens of children to cope with their losses. A second cohort, supported by The LFC Foundation, started in spring 2024. “The first groups have been life changing. We started with seven children, and we are now at capacity with 26 children in just six months,” Alfie said.

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Alfie Fitzsimmons created Alfie's Squad after losing his father to suicide.Alfie Fitzsimmons created Alfie's Squad after losing his father to suicide.
Alfie Fitzsimmons created Alfie's Squad after losing his father to suicide.

The eight-week programmes include a wide range of activities such as sports, quiz nights, podcasting sessions, graffiti art classes, drumming classes, circus workshops and craft projects. Importantly, the sessions, activities, and formats they take are all led by the children themselves. Media coverage of these first groups sparked an outpouring of interest and support, and requests from both families and professional services around the UK about how they could refer children to be part of Alfie’s Squad.

As a result, Alfie - who is now 15 - and his mum have now launched the UK’s first-ever online peer support group for children aged nine to 17 who have also been bereaved by suicide. Alfie and some of his squad members took on a shark dive in an open oceanarium at The Bear Grylls Adventure in Birmingham to support the new group, raising more than £10,000. Applications for the first eight-week online cohort are now open, and sessions are expected to start on May 21 2024, with activities including gaming and quiz nights, craft sessions and pizza parties already planned for the hour-long sessions.

How to be part of Alfie’s Squad: To refer a child into Alfie’s Squad or Alfie’s Squad Online, all you have to do is fill out a referral form and a member of the team will contact you within 72 hours to arrange for you and your child to attend a triage session.

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