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When we partnered with Winston’s Wish in 2019, our plan was to share our expertise and support them for 12 months and then partner with another local charity… well, its 2022 and we are delighted to still be working with them.

Why did plans change? – simply put, it’s a partnership that continues to blossom.

We’ve delivered a suite of online bereavement training courses for schools to support Winston’s Wish in sharing their knowledge on a national scale. To date, the resources we created have been utilised by over 25,000 people.

And now, we can proudly announce that we are illustrating their 2022 “book club” initiative!

What Is the Book Club?

Grieving children often experience a wide range of feelings, and it can be important to explore these to help them understand that this is normal. With that in mind, Winston’s Wish have launched “Winston’s Book Club” – a series of story books written for children up to 8 years old to help them explore the emotions they may experience after being bereaved.

Winston’s Book Club is a subscription service that provides members with a new book each month for 12 months. Every book explores a different emotion that a child may experience following the death of someone important to them.

There is also a guide for adults, to explain the story and help with conversations that arise when reading, as well as ideas for activities to further explore each emotion.

The books introduce Molly and Max, who have learned that someone close to them has died. Each book shows Molly and Max visited in turn by a different feeling (such as shock, anger and confusion), which they experience after hearing the sad news, and how each feeling affects them personally.

Image of Max & Molly

Children reading the books will recognize that they have experienced a similar situation to Max and Molly, and this, along with completing the activities in the adult guide, can help to form part of a “toolkit”.

If you’d be interested in supporting the charity, please visit their website and become a member of the book club. You can even gift the book to your local school to provide them with a resource that could help them to support grieving children in their community.

How Did We Help?

From our perspective, the project started in 2021. It builds on the Winston’s Wish online training resources we produced.

Although Winston’s Wish ultimately write the books, we support them to build on their ideas and add different visual learning techniques to help the children absorb what they are reading. And as there are 12 different emotions, we have also created 12 brand new characters to convey each emotion.

A selection of the different emotions

How we Illustrate

Although you might not be able to illustrate, our illustration process can be transferred across to multiple L&D activities, most likely in-house content creation with a tool like Adapt.

Scope

In the case of this project, we asked Winston’s Wish for a brief, a list of characters and a copy of the “script” in order to familiarise ourselves with the first book, but also the books in the future. This helps ensure consistency across the range, allowing children to create a bond with the characters they are reading about.

Once we have understood the scope of the project, we start planning and sketching!

Storyboarding

Although it is always enticing to just get stuck straight in, it is crucial to take a step back and plan things out.

Our storyboarding starts with a pencil and paper… mistakes will be made, corrections will be needed, it’s the reality of storyboarding. We sketch each scene/setting, ensuring that each scene matches what the story is at the point.

Once the storyboard is complete, we start bringing it to life with some initial assets. These assets will not be the “finished article”, they are purely to give the client a flavour of our ideas and of course “lift” the sketches into something much more visually engaging.

Now we’ve got something to show, we provide everything we’ve produced to the client and arrange a meeting to go through their feedback and ultimately sign-off the project so we can get building!

Building the Project

Our starting point is assets.

We make a list of the recurring assets and begin creating each asset. For example, if we are working with a recurring character, we aim to “standardise” their head/clothes and then fiddle around with the facial expressions when necessary.

Once we’ve produced all of the recurring assets, we begin pulling all of the assets together to produce each “screen”. There will inevitably be additional assets that are required, these tend to be a little more niche, adding more realism to each screen. For example, “screens” that have a window could require assets to show the changing landscape outside.

Now that we’ve pulled all our assets together, its time to begin our review process.

Scene from the Book Club

Internal Review

Our internal review process is pretty straightforward. All we want to do is ensure we have met the brief, that the imagery is in-line with brand guidelines and the project “works” across multiple devices.

Our Instructional Designer’s go through the project, essentially having the project on one screen and the brief on another. The instructional designers will highlight any areas where we have strayed from the brief, or simple mistakes such as spelling and grammar.

The project is then handed to our Lead Designer to look at the branding/assets with a fine toothcomb. If anything is spotted that doesn’t meet brand guidelines or the project brief, it will be highlighted to the project lead.

The final stage of our internal review process involves technical checks. Our aim is to ensure the project is seamlessly deliverable across a range of devices.

Once all issues have been identified, the project lead is notified and begins rectifying the issues.

External Review

Now that we are happy with the project, it goes across to the client for a review. This part of the process is very much back & forth.

The reason being is that when clients see a concept come to life, new ideas pop into their heads and the creative juices start flowing once again. Sometimes we get things signed off at the first attempt, other times it can take a while… its very much dependent on the type of project being delivered.

So, that’s our process in a very basic format. You can follow this process when creating your own content in-house, its just a case of switching the “client” to your own subject matter experts.

Who are Winston’s Wish?

Winston’s Wish were founded in 1992 as the UK’s first childhood bereavement charity. Operating from their head-office in Cheltenham, Winston’s Wish exists to “give hope to grieving children” with a mission to listen when a child is grieving, to act when a child needs their help and to know what to say when it is time to talk.

Through the provision of a Freephone National Helpline, a suite of resources, online and face-to-face work, the charity supports children through one of the most devastating losses they will ever face. 

Winston’s Wish are determined to achieve their vision of “A society in which every child can get the help they need when someone close to them dies” because they know that with the right support at the right time, delivered in the right way, grieving children can go on to lead full and flourishing lives.