The case for supporting siblings of seriously ill children

A child’s life changes dramatically when their sibling is diagnosed with a serious illness. Our new report, See us, Hear us, Notice us, sets out why the support of brothers and sisters – known as sibling support - should be valued and funded more highly.

When a child becomes ill, a parent will have less time to focus on their brothers and sisters. Routines change, and a healthy child can struggle to understand what’s happening.

Getting to and from school can be hard, and opening up about their feelings can be difficult as they try to protect their parents from more worry.

How sibling support makes a difference

  • Sibling support from organisations like Rainbow Trust can help children learn important coping mechanisms and find an outlet for their strong feelings.
  • Practical support can help them get to school and keep up with homework. Meeting other children in the same situation can also help them feel less isolated.
  • More and more children are growing up with a seriously ill brother or sister as a result of medical advances. But, despite some official recognition of the need to support siblings, many local authorities have reduced funding as budgets are squeezed.

However, funding sibling support can prevent future costs for public services. Our conservative estimate is that our sibling support saves around £418,000 each year for the education, health and social care system.

Download full report

Download executive summary

At the moment, sibling support has a low profile among both national and local decision-makers.

Together we can change this.

Please add your name below to our message to government.

*I back the call for all children and young people with seriously ill brothers or sisters to have access to high quality sibling support when required, before their education, mental health and wellbeing are more seriously affected.

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