Training & Education

Meet the Team

Our aim is to equip professionals with the confidence, knowledge and skills to provide safe and sensitive care for parents and families.

Each Sands training event is facilitated by a trainer who is a subject specialist.

They bring their expertise to every session, sharing insights, understanding and tried-and-tested approaches that enable healthcare and workplace professionals to provide safe and sensitive care in the most difficult circumstances.

Our Team

Johanna Symanowski

Lead Trainer

Johanna has over 20 years’ experience in Learning and Development in many sectors including corporations and public sector and brings this experience to creating training and education content for Sands.  She is passionate about supporting parents following a bereavement and improving maternity care standards through education.

Charlotte Bevan

Senior Research and Prevention Advisor

Charlotte’s daughter Hope died shortly after she was born in 2001 as a result of events in labour. She has worked at Sands since 2004 and advocates for the experiences of bereaved women and families to shape research and policy initiatives to improve maternity safety across the UK. As well as advising on several research studies, she is a Sands representative on the MBRRACE-UK and the Perinatal Mortality Review Tool (PMRT) collaborations, on the National Child Mortality Database in England and the National Hub in Scotland, a central data collection on children who die. She chaired the PMRT subgroup to develop resources for meaningful parent engagement in hospital review and has developed training in this area for health professionals.

Fatima Bhula

Sands Trainer

Fatima has been involved in training and teaching for almost 20 years, initially as a qualified and practicing solicitor training tomorrow’s lawyers, then also working with and training health professionals for a national maternity and parenting charity. Fatima became involved with Sands 13 years ago following the loss of her daughter when she accessed support and later trained as a befriender. It was a natural progression for Fatima to take up the role of Bereavement care trainer in 2013 alongside her other roles.

Kate Stanton

Sands Trainer

Kate Stanton has been involved with Sands in a number of different roles since 2004. First as a parent following the death of her son Louis shortly after birth and then as a befriender, Kate now works as a trainer for Sands, delivering Befriender Training to bereaved parents and Bereavement Support training to Health Professionals. This combines her professional background as an experienced children’s nurse and trainer with her passion for accessible, quality support for parents after the death of their baby at any stage of pregnancy.

Clare Worgan

Head of Training and Education

Clare’s previous career was in civil engineering as a project manager. However, when her daughter was stillborn she was inspired to become a midwife and started her midwifery degree the following year. Early in her midwifery career, Clare realised her passion for bereavement care and joined the team at Sands, initially as a Trustee and now as the Head of Training and Education. Clare is an advocate for trauma-informed maternity care and believes that communication, compassion and informed choice are vital for the wellbeing of bereaved parents and families.

Sophia Cross

Sands Trainer

Sophia has a background in education across a variety of disciplines including coaching, bereavement, safeguarding, and parenting. She has a particular interest in counseling and is currently undertaking a Foundation Degree in Integrative counseling practice. Sophia became involved with Sands after the stillbirth of her son Fred and has been a Sands Trainer since 2015. Through her volunteering work and her work as a Trainer, Sophia has seen firsthand the impact of grief, and the importance of good bereavement care for long-term emotional well-being.

Sarah Hill

Sands Trainer

Sarah has been working as a trainer with Sands since 2016. Her passion for bereavement care started with a bereavement charity at age 18. In the following 20 years she trained as a secondary school teacher before combining education with roles in the voluntary sector, working with some of the UKs biggest charities and within the NHS. In addition to delivering training Sarah also runs GriefChat, a webchat bereavement support service which can be found on the Sands website.

Sarah Finnigan

Sands Trainer

With over 20 years’ experience as a Trainer, Sarah Finnigan is an accomplished facilitator, delivering training to a wide variety of audiences, including young people, senior managers and health professionals. Sarah initially came to Sands for support after her daughter Charlie died at 6 days old, in 2010 and she became a Befriender for her local group. She has worked for Sands for over 7 years, is currently Regional Volunteering Lead and has supported many professionals to enhance their skills in providing excellent bereavement care during that time. She really enjoys her role because it makes a difference to so many people, most of all, bereaved families.

Marc Harder

National Bereavement Care Pathway Project Lead

Marc has been the UK Lead for the National Bereavement Care Pathway at Sands since March 2017, responsible for developing, piloting, evaluating and rolling out the pathway, initially in England. The pathway covers five experiences of pregnancy and baby loss: miscarriage, TOPFA, stillbirth, neonatal death and SUDI and has now been adopted by more than 60% of NHS England hospital trusts. More recently the pathway has been launched in Scotland, where four early adopter sites are testing its guidelines and resources. Marc previously worked for many years as a Children’s Services Manager in Local Government and project manager in the private sector.

HeatherJane Coombs

Sands Trainer

HJ has been involved with Sands for the past 16 years after reaching out for support following the loss of her son Xander. Finding nothing, she and her husband set up a Sands support group with two other mothers that still supports local parents and healthcare professionals. HJ is Sands Wales Network Coordinator and is passionate about bereavement support. She has been successfully delivering training to healthcare professionals and Sands volunteers for 10 years, embracing new ways of teaching and the opportunities digital technology brings.

Marc Harder

National Bereavement Care Pathway Project Lead

Marc has been the UK Lead for the National Bereavement Care Pathway at Sands since March 2017, responsible for developing, piloting, evaluating and rolling out the pathway, initially in England. The pathway covers five experiences of pregnancy and baby loss: miscarriage, TOPFA, stillbirth, neonatal death and SUDI and has now been adopted by more than 60% of NHS England hospital trusts. More recently the pathway has been launched in Scotland, where four early adopter sites are testing its guidelines and resources. Marc previously worked for many years as a Children’s Services Manager in Local Government and project manager in the private sector.

Charlotte Bevan

Senior Research and Prevention Advisor

Charlotte’s daughter Hope died shortly after she was born in 2001 as a result of events in labour. She has worked at Sands since 2004 and advocates for the experiences of bereaved women and families to shape research and policy initiatives to improve maternity safety across the UK. As well as advising on several research studies, she is a Sands representative on the MBRRACE-UK and the Perinatal Mortality Review Tool (PMRT) collaborations, on the National Child Mortality Database in England and the National Hub in Scotland, a central data collection on children who die. She chaired the PMRT subgroup to develop resources for meaningful parent engagement in hospital review and has developed training in this area for health professionals.

Sarah Hill

Sands Trainer

Sarah has been working as a trainer with Sands since 2016. Her passion for bereavement care started with a bereavement charity at age 18. In the following 20 years she trained as a secondary school teacher before combining education with roles in the voluntary sector, working with some of the UKs biggest charities and within the NHS. In addition to delivering training Sarah also runs GriefChat, a webchat bereavement support service which can be found on the Sands website.

HeatherJane Coombs

Sands Trainer

HJ has been involved with Sands for the past 16 years after reaching out for support following the loss of her son Xander. Finding nothing, she and her husband set up a Sands support group with two other mothers that still supports local parents and healthcare professionals. HJ is Sands Wales Network Coordinator and is passionate about bereavement support. She has been successfully delivering training to healthcare professionals and Sands volunteers for 10 years, embracing new ways of teaching and the opportunities digital technology brings.

Johanna Symanowski

Lead Trainer

Johanna has over 20 years’ experience in Learning and Development in many sectors including corporations and public sector and brings this experience to creating training and education content for Sands.  She is passionate about supporting parents following a bereavement and improving maternity care standards through education.

Sarah Finnigan

Sands Trainer

With over 20 years’ experience as a Trainer, Sarah Finnigan is an accomplished facilitator, delivering training to a wide variety of audiences, including young people, senior managers and health professionals. Sarah initially came to Sands for support after her daughter Charlie died at 6 days old, in 2010 and she became a Befriender for her local group. She has worked for Sands for over 7 years, is currently Regional Volunteering Lead and has supported many professionals to enhance their skills in providing excellent bereavement care during that time. She really enjoys her role because it makes a difference to so many people, most of all, bereaved families.

Sophia Cross

Sands Trainer

Sophia has a background in education across a variety of disciplines including coaching, bereavement, safeguarding, and parenting. She has a particular interest in counseling and is currently undertaking a Foundation Degree in Integrative counseling practice. Sophia became involved with Sands after the stillbirth of her son Fred and has been a Sands Trainer since 2015. Through her volunteering work and her work as a Trainer, Sophia has seen firsthand the impact of grief, and the importance of good bereavement care for long-term emotional well-being.

Fatima Bhula

Sands Trainer

Fatima has been involved in training and teaching for almost 20 years, initially as a qualified and practicing solicitor training tomorrow’s lawyers, then also working with and training health professionals for a national maternity and parenting charity. Fatima became involved with Sands 13 years ago following the loss of her daughter when she accessed support and later trained as a befriender. It was a natural progression for Fatima to take up the role of Bereavement care trainer in 2013 alongside her other roles.

Clare Worgan

Head of Training and Education

Clare’s previous career was in civil engineering as a project manager. However, when her daughter was stillborn she was inspired to become a midwife and started her midwifery degree the following year. Early in her midwifery career, Clare realised her passion for bereavement care and joined the team at Sands, initially as a Trustee and now as the Head of Training and Education. Clare is an advocate for trauma-informed maternity care and believes that communication, compassion and informed choice are vital for the wellbeing of bereaved parents and families.

Kate Stanton

Sands Trainer

Kate Stanton has been involved with Sands in a number of different roles since 2004. First as a parent following the death of her son Louis shortly after birth and then as a befriender, Kate now works as a trainer for Sands, delivering Befriender Training to bereaved parents and Bereavement Support training to Health Professionals. This combines her professional background as an experienced children’s nurse and trainer with her passion for accessible, quality support for parents after the death of their baby at any stage of pregnancy.

“The course was really interesting and very helpful in my role as a Bereavement Support Officer who has just started working with recently bereaved parents. I have certainly gained confidence from what I have heard today."
Webinar participant