FAMILIES who have lost a child during or close to pregnancy are being offered vital support.

Each year, October 9 to 15 marks pregnancy and infant loss awareness week.

According to the National Register of Statistics, four stillbirths were recorded in both Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire last year.

This is a rise from three in both regions during 2015 and the first increase since 2011.

Since 2011, 70 stillbirths have been recorded across both regions, but according to Jaqueline Fairlie, a midwife at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital, there are many more women and families in both areas who have been left devastated by child loss and a lack of local support currently available.

Jaqueline and colleague Rhona Higgins have now set up a support group in Linwood which will launch next month.

Jaqueline said: “We have a SiMBA quiet room at the hospital but we are very aware that when the girls leave the hospital, there is nothing in these regions which offers the support you can get elsewhere.

“Some people may never use the group but I hope it helps people even to know it is there. I hope they can come and talk or just listen if they feel they need.”

SiMBA is a charity founded in October 2005 in response to the needs of those affected by the loss of a baby.

To mark the end of pregnancy awareness week, it is taking part in the Wave of Light – a worldwide event where candles are lit at 7pm local time for an hour.

For the first time this year, SiMBA will hold an event in Glasgow, as well as in Oban and Edinburgh.

Valerie Callan, a bereaved parent, became SiMBA facilitator two years ago, and she hopes people from Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire will join in the service.

Valerie, who now has a 13-year-old son, said: “I lost my daughter 15 years ago and at that time, there was nothing like the SiMBA support groups.

“I think they are beneficial because people are not forced to talk, it is very casual. We talk, we sometimes swear and we listen.

“At the service on Sunday, the RSNO have agreed to play, which I think will be wonderful, and there will be poems read.

“Nobody is going to preach, it will just be a nice short service and the candles will be lit at 7pm to cast a wave of light across the world, which I think is nice.

“The service will be streamed live so people can watch it in their homes if they want.

“A lot of people who have lost their children are looking for an answer.

“The loss will never go away but the main thing is for people not to feel alone.”

The Glasgow Wave of Light is on October 15 from 6.15pm at the Memorial Chapel, University of Glasgow.

Paisley SiMBA support group will meet on November 5 at the Tweedie Hall, in Linwood, from 7pm until 9pm.