Interview with Zoe Clark-Coates MBE of The Mariposa Trust

The Mariposa Trust are bringing a Global Service Of Remembrance To Oxford 8th July for families, couples and individuals affected by the loss of a baby. Whether that be during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy.

Baby loss is a global issue with around 30 million miscarriages each year, 2.6 million still births and 5.495 million neo-natal and early years losses. The Mariposa Trust is leading the way in providing better support for anyone going through loss, and in increasing awareness of the size and scale of the issue.

Prior to the service, we spoke to CEO Zoe Clark-Coates MBE about her own journey with loss and what she has worked tirelessly for over the last decade with her charity, including an impactful law change.

The author of the Baby Loss Guide, Beyond Goodbye and Pregnancy after Loss, has consulted with the Government and chaired the ‘National Pregnancy Loss Review’, looking at all pre-24-week baby loss support in the UK. In addition, Zoe was awarded an MBE for services to baby loss in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2021.


zoe andy clark coates
Andy and Zoe Clark-Coates founded the charity in 2012 following the loss of 5 babies between 2007 and 2011.

The charity has been running for 10 years, have the key pieces of advice on dealing with loss changed over time?

Sadly baby loss has existed for as long as humanity has, and affects around 1 in 4 pregnancies, amounting to around 30,000,000 losses each year globally. Many people find that when they go through loss, well-meaning people say things like ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’ and other platitudes, thinking they will help to bring peace, but it just causes further pain.

We cannot stop loss, but we can be better at supporting people though loss, and trying to stop further pain. Over the last 10-years the charity has tried to break the taboo nature of baby loss, and educate people on how to sensitively discuss it.

You started this charity based on your own experiences, if you could tell younger self anything about the journey and healing process, what would that be?

Grief is a lifelong journey. You never get over a person you have lost, it changes you forever. Try and embrace this transformation rather than try and get back to the old ‘pre-loss’ you.

One pain felt in many ways: How does the grieving process affect people from all backgrounds and cultures? Does this differ and are there any unique handling processes we can learn from?

The British are generally bad as a society at dealing with death and grief, and so try to minimise talking about it or acknowledging it. This leads to death and loss being a taboo subject, and makes the people going through loss feel isolated and lonely. Other countries embrace death, and celebrate the life lost.

The Irish gather as a community to mourn a life lost. Same in Italy, as do many African nations and tribes. Spanish and Mexican people celebrate death and remember their ancestors each year. Many other countries have a far more open dialogue about loss than the UK, and do not fear being open and raw. This allows people to feel freer to talk with family and friends, and gain the support they need.

Kym Marsh and Zoe Clark Coates
Zoe (Right) with Kym Marsh, who presented the Archie Award (created in honour of her son) at the Mariposa Ball & Awards.

What are some of the primary services and support programs offered by the Mariposa Trust for individuals and families affected by baby loss?

We provide support in a number of ways. Firstly the Saying Goodbye services, which are run around the UK and beyond. These give people the chance to join with others and remember the baby or babies they have lost, in a moving and beautiful service.

Secondly, support, which includes befrienders, online platforms, social media, counselling and more. Thirdly, resources. We provide free resources, which are used across the NHS and beyond to try and provide people with easy access to information and support options as quickly as possible.

Do you offer support for fathers, especially those who may feel they have less right to grieve?

We have a campaign we have run since we started as a charity, which is #DadsMatterToo and a further campaign #PartnersMatterToo. This is all about providing support to fathers and partners, and helping them to process pain and grief.

Race for Love
This Year the Charity have places for the following races: The Great Birmingham 10K, The Great Manchester 10K, Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10K, The Great North Run – Half Marathon, The Royal Parks Half Marathon and The Great South Run (Portsmouth) 10-mile

How do you ensure that the support provided by the Mariposa Trust is accessible and inclusive to people from diverse backgrounds and cultures?

As a charity we are always looking to be fully inclusive and embrace people from all backgrounds and cultures, in all aspects of our work. This can be from translating resources into different languages and working with diverse groups to better understand their unique experiences of loss and grieving, to ensure we evolve in the support we provide.

The Clark Coates with Boris Johnson
Zoe worked with the Government in 2018 for the National Pregnancy Loss Review

What are some of the key challenges you have encountered while working with people affected by baby loss, and how have you addressed those challenges?

The pandemic was a huge challenge for people going through baby loss, as partners were excluded from all hospital settings, meaning that mothers had to experience baby loss on their own in hospitals, and due to lockdown also without the support of friends and family around them.

As a charity we worked to provide as many avenues for support as possible, and we have taken ‘the need for partners to be included when individuals are going through baby loss’ to government as a key recommendation when looking at future planning for similar pandemic type situations.

Can you describe any initiatives or campaigns that the Mariposa Trust has undertaken to reduce the stigma surrounding baby loss and promote open conversations?

The biggest campaign was for the introduction of a Certificate of Loss for anyone who loses a baby pre-24-weeks gestation. We have a Bill in the House of Lords calling for this. Up until now, anyone losing before this stage has no formal recognition that their baby existed.

Last year after years of working with the government, it was announced that it would be introduced by the Pregnancy Loss Review as part of the Women’s Health Strategy. This will not only allow around hundreds of thousands of families in England each year to get an official certificate, but it is also going to be backdateable, allowing millions of grieving parents who have lost years and decades ago, to finally get official recognition…we hope this will be launched shortly.