Nanaimo Community Hospice Society hosted a ceremony Wednesday to officially launch its vehicle specially designed to bring grief counselling services to children in Nanaimo. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

Nanaimo hospice outreach vehicle hits the road

Community outreach vehicle aims to bring counselling services to children who’ve lost loved ones

For children in Nanaimo grieving the loss of loved ones, help can be on the way.

Nanaimo Community Hospice Society officially launched its community outreach vehicle over speeches, cake and coffee Wednesday at the hospice society’s property on St. George Crescent.

The 37-foot converted Itasca motorhome, also referred to by hospice staff as the Griefmobile, will travel around the Nanaimo area bringing in-house counselling tools to children who can’t get to the hospice society for help.

The vehicle will serve the Nanaimo area and the hospice society has an agreement with Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools to drive to schools to help children requiring grief counselling.

“We have a memorandum of understanding with the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district to go to schools where we have people who have referred themselves to us,” said Paul Sibley, Nanaimo Community Hospice Society executive director. “So we’re not just showing up and it’s ‘who wants to come talk to somebody.’ They’ve engaged with us. They’ve gone through our intake process and now part of the way we make the service accessible is to come where they’re at if their parents have trouble bringing them here, if it disprupts their school day and all those sorts of things and it just ups the accessibility.”

The vehicle has soft furniture, a microwave, tables and a play area with toys and stuffed animals and its services are targeted at elementary school age children.

“They’re not going to sit down and have the kind of conversation you and I would have about the experiences,” Sibley said. “They need to work it out through play, drawing, art work, all kinds of things … that are sensory in nature.”

The society raised about $85,000 to purchase, convert and outfit the 22-year-old vehicle.

“We bought a used RV, so we found a great deal on that,” Sibley said. “It was in great shape. We had to clean it up a bit, do a little bit of mechanical, a bit of renovation on the inside, took out all the old carpet and put in some flooring that’s workable … and then all of the things we put in it. All the tools of the trade.”
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Hudson, a 10-year-old, poodle-golden retriever cross St. John Ambulance therapy dog, will be along for the ride with Nanaimo Hospice Society’s community outreach vehicle. Hudson, stuffed animals, toys, art supplies and other tools of grief counselling help children deal with loss of loved ones in their lives. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

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