Shelley Gilbert was orphaned as a child, losing both her parents at a young age. This experience gave her a personal insight into the issues facing bereaved children.
Dr. Shelley Gilbert MBE, BA (Hons) PGDPM, MBACP worked full time at Kentish Town Citizens Advice Bureau and then re-trained as a counsellor more than fifteen years ago. She has a Post Graduate qualification in Counselling and is a senior accredited Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. She joined the Jewish Bereavement Counselling Service, where she trained others and initiated schemes to expand her area as a specialist bereavement counsellor for children. Shelley was a volunteer for Place to Be, an organisation that provides emotional and therapeutic support for children in primary schools.
She has just completed her Doctorate in 2016.
13 years ago, Shelley set up Grief Encounter offering bereaved children and young people (from 4-18) a safe space to grieve and talk about their feelings following the death of a parent or sibling. As Professor Tanya Byron said, “To lose a parent at any age is sad but to lose a parent when you are young is unimaginable”.
She wanted to ensure that today’s bereaved children have somewhere to turn when they feel NOBODY else understands. When a child loses a parent they are unlikely to open up to their left parent in fear of upsetting them and they are often sent back to school and expected to carry on like nothing has happened. Shelley has created a safe and fun place for children to help them deal with their grief and to meet other children who have also lost someone close so they realise there are other people who understand and are in the same situation as them.
She is the author of a unique children’s book entitled Grief Encounter Workbook, which was published in 2004. The book encourages conversations about loss between children and adults and all the proceeds are donated to charity. It quickly became a best seller for bereaved children.
Grief Encounter’s vision is that every bereaved child and their family in the UK get the best possible help, recognition and understanding following their loss. The aim is to offer a flexible and accessible child-focused specialist bereavement service with their innovative children’s workshops, one-to-one counselling, website, helpline and consultancy and training work to other professionals, hospitals and schools.
She has been invited by many organisations as a Key Note Speaker, most recently hosting a TED X talk, to comment on her work with bereaved young people, or run training and workshops for professionals. She has written several published articles.
Her innovative theory about the “Upward Spiral of Grief” process is now widely adopted in the bereavement world. She is currently undertaking a Doctorate in Professional Studies, researching work with bereaved young people.
Shelley has also been lucky enough to have appeared on Television many times, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 5 and Sky News.
Grief Encounter has had wide press coverage both in the national and local press, raising the profile of bereaved children and young people.
Shelley has also received a number of awards for her counselling initiatives, including AOL Innovation in the Community, Bank of America Excellence award, Helping Hands for exceptional community work, Minerva Business Award, short listed for SHE Magazine Woman of the Year and most recently Daily Mail Inspirational Woman of the Year 2013
Her contribution to the community is truly exceptional.