Virtual support service launched for bereaved people
26th May 2020
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Two charities are teaming up to launch a new online service helping bereaved people in Sutton Coldfield during the Covid-19 lockdown.

St Giles Hospice and Age Concern Birmingham will be running a virtual bereavement help point, offering free support to people who are experiencing or who have experienced bereavement, starting on Wednesday 27 May at 10am.

Nikki Archer, supportive care director at St Giles Hospice, said: “Bereavement can create major challenges for anyone during ordinary times, but during extraordinary times such as these the problems can be even more complex.

“Relatives and friends are now also facing the issues of isolation and separation at the end of life, the loss of face-to-face support and the impact of changes to funerals and hospital visiting - so there is more need than ever for the vital services offered by our bereavement help points.

“With the launch of this new online service in partnership with Age Concern we want to ensure that anyone locally who is newly bereaved or who is struggling with issues relating to the loss of a loved one can get the help and support they need during the COVID-19 crisis.”

Usually, St Giles Hospice’s bereavement help points offer information on coping with both the practical and emotional aspects of losing a relative or friend, a chance to chat with a support volunteer and the opportunity to meet other people in a similar situation.

Before the lockdown St Giles operated 14 help points across the hospice catchment area, including a session at its Supportive Care Centre in Lindridge Road, Sutton Coldfield.

Because of the high demand in Sutton Coldfield, St Giles had united with Age Concern Birmingham to draw up plans for a new help point at Age Concern’s Communitea Café, in Boldmere, to increase capacity for the service and make access easier across the town.

However, the plans have been temporarily put on hold following the announcement of social distancing measures, and the virtual service will fulfil the needs of residents until the physical help point can be established.

St Giles has already adapted its bereavement support services to run virtual help points to support people who attend its 14 physical bereavement help points, as a response to Covid-19.

Dawn McCarthy, operations manager at Age Concern Birmingham, said: “We are really pleased to be working in partnership with St Giles to deliver this online bereavement support.

"We were really looking forward to launching the bereavement help point in our Communitea Café hub in Boldmere as we felt it would be a great fit for the range of community support groups we run in the café each week. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that this would not be possible as our café has had to close at this present time.

"We set up a COVID-19 support line and this has been inundated with a range of issues facing people at this unprecedented time, and to be able to offer those struggling with loss the chance to join the online help point will be a real step forward to helping and supporting people at a time when they need it the most. We also look forward to starting the one in our café when we are able to open, but see a real value in an online version too.”

Anyone who would like to find out more about the virtual bereavement help point or the services that the help points offer can contact 01543 434536 for further information.

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