WHAT'S ON

Call to support Red Nose Day 2021 as COVID-19 causes surge in requests for support from grieving families

Seeing red: Red Nose Day aims to prevent deaths and support the families of the little lives lost to stillbirth, sudden infant death and other causes.
Seeing red: Red Nose Day aims to prevent deaths and support the families of the little lives lost to stillbirth, sudden infant death and other causes.

Today is Red Nose Day, and this year, organisers hope to raise $700,000 towards research and support of grief-stricken families following the loss of a child.

And this year, more than ever, people are being asked to dig deep, with the organisation saying it has received more calls for assistance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first Red Nose Day was held 33 years ago and originally drew attention to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which was also then known as cot death.

As SIDS rates fell, organisers decided to also turn their attention to the many other causes of death in babies and young children, which claims 3000 lives a year.

The aim of Red Nose Day is to prevent deaths and support the families of the nine little lives lost every day to stillbirth, sudden infant death and other causes.

"Since COVID-19 restrictions were first introduced across Australia last year, Red Nose has experienced a surge in requests for support from families who have lost a beloved baby during this difficult time," Red Nose Day organisers said.

"Calls to the Red Nose 24-7 Grief and Loss Support Line have increased by 45 per cent over the past year, while we've delivered 40 per cent more counselling sessions.

"Calls to our Red Nose Safe Sleep Advice Line from worried parents have jumped 20 per cent."

Red Nose Australia chief executive Keren Ludski said: "It's clear that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Australians need Red Nose Day more than ever.

Funds raised go towards groundbreaking research to unlock the causes of stillbirth and infant death, and to spearhead prevention efforts as well as fund its services.

"Red Nose is currently doing everything we can to provide vital support to grieving families and evidence-based reassurance to nervous new parents worried about SIDS and baby safety," she said.

"Red Nose Day is absolutely critical for us to be able to continue these support services and to fund research that will create an Australia where not one baby dies suddenly or unexpectedly - that's the ultimate goal."

In order to raise funds to cope with the increased demand at a time when COVID-19 restrictions are again curbing fundraising events, organisers are asking people to don a digital red nose, wear a special face mask, or join the virtual telethon.

Ms Ludski said: "We've pivoted our fundraising to respond to the needs of Australians in lockdown by focusing on our online fundraising efforts, and we dearly hope that Australia joins us today in getting silly for our serious cause".

Details: Donate to the telethon by phoning 1300 998 698. You can buy Red Nose Day merchandise by clicking here or make a donation by clicking here.