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28th May 2020

Charities partner up to expand bereavement support for local people

St Helena Hospice has partnered with Age Concern Colchester & North East Essex to expand its bereavement support service during the Covid-19 pandemic, to ensure everyone in north east Essex can access and receive support when needed, in a timely way.

St Helena Hospice provides its bereavement support to anybody who has been bereaved, regardless of how or where a loved one has died. When someone is referred to the service, they are triaged and appropriate support is then given to them, tailored to their needs.

St Helena Hospice has been providing bereavement support to local people for many years and demand for its service has always been high – and this is only expected to increase further in the coming weeks and months.

Susie Burnby, St Helena Hospice’s joint bereavement team lead, counsellor and supervisor, said: “During this global pandemic, we are facing a tragic loss of life, often under very difficult circumstances, and because of pressures on frontline services and restrictions on visiting, the death of loved ones may feel particularly traumatic.

“People are also facing grieving for their loved ones in isolation – without the comfort and face to face support of family members and friends.

“In April we decided to expand our service to ensure we could be there for those who need us, when they need us. Our waiting list for support in the past has been long, but we were able to second staff from other teams, over to our team, train them, and we have now reduced our waiting list significantly, so when people do refer themselves, we can provide the best support for them as quickly as possible.

“By partnering with Age Concern Colchester & North East Essex, we have been able to draw on their resource of bereavement befrienders, who can provide a listening ear and some support over the phone immediately, until a St Helena counsellor is available. They can also continue to provide support after counselling sessions have finished, if the person feels that would be beneficial.”

Age Concern Colchester & North East Essex is also supporting St Helena Hospice by recruiting qualified counsellors to become St Helena bereavement volunteers, offering bereavement support over the telephone.

Emma Baum, Operations Manager for Age Concern Colchester and North East Essex’s Bereavement Befriending and Compassionate Companions projects said:

“I joined forces with Age Concern Colchester & North East Essex and St Helena in April to expand our ability to provide timely bereavement support to those in need. I am working closely with the bereavement team at St Helena to provide the most effective solutions for all those affected by bereavement at this challenging time.

“Age Concern and North East Essex’s Bereavement Befrienders are here to offer a listening ear (and helping hand) for anyone in need before and after their formal counselling sessions with St Helena.’’

St Helena Hospice has recently also secured funding to launch counsellor-led online Zoom groups for adults bereaved by suicide. Referrals are welcome for this service currently.

Susie added: “We provide bereavement support to anyone, no matter the cause of death and you do not need to have had support from St Helena prior to receiving bereavement support.

“We are able to provide bereavement support and counselling to children, young people, families and adults over the phone or video call. You can refer yourself on our website, as well as being referred by your GP or other health or social care worker.”

St Helena Hospice is being supported by the North East Essex Health & Wellbeing Alliance and North East Essex Clinical Commission Group to increase capacity within its bereavement support service.

To find out more about St Helena Hospice’s bereavement support or to refer yourself for support, please click here or call 01206 984 274.

Posted: 28th May 2020


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