THE National Bereavement Service (NBS) has launched a grief support and counselling capability designed to offer charities a bereavement counselling helpline for their service users.
The move comes as concerns about the mental health issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic escalate, not only for those directly affected by the virus but also for those unable to plan or attend conventional funerals due to the lockdown. Many charities lack the resources to offer a full-time support and counselling helpline and the move by NBS is designed to help third sector organisations provide a dedicated free-phone number, giving people direct access to bereavement support from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 2pm on Saturday.
Jean Watkins from NBS commented:
“The support and counselling service is something we have been working on for a while, in partnership with St Giles Hospice. Our team has undertaken training to ensure that we can offer callers the right help, no matter what they are going through. We can provide immediate help and support and, if we identify a need to refer people for further help, we can then refer them for assessment. Any additional support will either be provided by trained specialist bereavement support volunteers, or, where counselling is required, by a BACP-registered practitioner.
“The impact of the pandemic has made this kind of support more valuable than ever for charities because the effects of losing a loved one are amplified at this time by social distancing and an inability to say goodbye and grieve with friends and family in the usual way. Charities will be able to offer people bereavement support and counselling, that can be branded to their organisation if they wish, and managed professionally by our experienced team.”
A not-for-profit organisation, NBS already works with a wide range of charities to offer bereavement-based support and services, including will writing, funeral packages and legal services, helping them to protect those recently bereaved from being exploited when they are at their most vulnerable. NBS also provides bereavement-based employee packages to corporate partners, along with information and a free helpline for members of the public. All its services are aimed at providing practical advice and support on any aspect of what to do and how to cope when a loved one dies.
“Death is a subject that affects us all, and yet we spend very little time talking about it or planning for it. As a result, people often have to make a number of difficult decisions at a time when they’re at their most vulnerable, which can be both stressful and distressing.
“Our aim with the new support and counselling service is to work with charities to give people emotional and practical support. It will allow charities to signpost people to the tools they need to cope with their grief and take the practical steps required following the loss of a loved one.”