2 May 2012
Skylight is a charitable trust which provides support for people of all ages through life crises, with “warm, engaging and honest titles that don’t dress things up,” according to Tricia Irving Hendry (left), Skylight’s Deputy Chief Executive and publisher.
Skylight is a specialist agency assisting children, young people, adults and families – and those supporting them – through change, loss, trauma and grief, whatever the cause. They offer a range of support services, but began publishing in 2000 in response to constant requests for good information about tough life situations for children, for teens and for adults. Skylight has steadily built up their title list to 62 publications including topics such as suicide, sudden death, family break up, blended families, protection orders, addiction, domestic violence, anger management, mental illness, heartbreak and bullying.
Beyond Words: Grieving When Your Child has Died (a handbook for bereaved parents) is their most recent publication. It offers the words, perspectives and suggestions of many bereaved parents. Like all of Skylight’s publications it aims to be comforting, encouraging, informative and practical. Orders have already been received from Australia as well as locally. Beyond Words will be printed in small runs subsidised by funding grants, the norm for their titles.
Other issues Skylight has tackled include a guide for the parents of teen mental patients; What Happens to Babies, their only fiction title supporting the parents and family of stillborn or miscarried children; and After Suicide, aimed at teen peers of young people who have taken their own lives.
When Canterbury’s earthquakes struck it was to Skylight that many agencies turned, including government, to find tools to support children, teens and adults traumatised and grieving multiple changes and losses – as well as coping with ongoing quakes: “Once I had the books in my hands I felt like things weren’t quite so out of control. The kids got very engaged with the books and we had conversations about things we would never have discussed together without them. I learned things about them I hadn’t known and could now do something about. Your info for us as parents also opened our eyes and gave us hope that we actually could get through this okay.”
When Trauma and Grief Comes to Work was awarded a special commendation award at the 2011 New Zealand Workplace Health and Safety Awards for its role in assisting employers and managers after the Canterbury earthquakes.
Likewise, after the Australian bushfires and floods in recent years, Skylight was the ‘go to’ agency for support publications. Their reputation for such specialist publications has expanded as people have discovered the significant gains made possible by well targeted information about life’s tough topics that’s straight talking and very, very practical.
One of the benefits of Skylight publications is that their content is informed, tested and shaped by what is learned by its other services, including its all-age counselling and support groups services and its school programme. They never publish any title that they wouldn’t have 100 per cent confidence in using themselves in their own practice.
One Wellington counsellor reported recently that a ten-year-old boy shared more about his life in 40 minutes playing Skylight’s Getting Stronger Game with her than in the previous three-hour-long sessions.“We’re able to complement our counselling skills by using Skylight’s support resources, not only during the sessions but for our clients to take home. They make a huge difference and knowing that Skylight’s experience is built into each one is even better.”
Publication formats range from books to fold-out leaflets, boxed card sets and a board game. Whatever the topic, Skylight publishes to make the information accessible, affordable and above all else, genuinely helpful.
Skylight sells its publications directly online as well as to independent bookstores in New Zealand. People can also access them by phoning Skylight’s free phone line. Currently Skylight is having its publications trialled in the UK and the Middle East by companies interested in seeing them in use in their education and youth sectors.
Four of Skylight’s titles Something Has Happened, When Tough Stuff Happens, The Children’s Support Booklet Series and The Getting Stronger Game were selected for the Frankfurt catalogue and Skylight will be represented at the Frankfurt Book Fair later in the year.
“We have repeatedly seen and heard of examples of publications having genuinely changed lives,” says Tricia. “That inspires us to continue as innovatively as we can, serving those groups who can so often go unsupported. Our challenge is that the market for such specialist information is not large in New Zealand, but the needs of people in traumatic and grieving situations are always significant.”