Somerset County Council has commissioned two leading charities to provide bereavement support for people in Somerset in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Somerset Bereavement Support Service will be delivered in partnership by end-of-life charity Marie Curie and mental health charity Mind in Somerset.
Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for Public Health and Wellbeing said: “During the coronavirus pandemic we are, together, facing loss of life, often under very difficult circumstances and I would like to personally offer my condolences to the families and friends in Somerset and beyond who have lost a loved one.
“This important new bereavement support service aims to reduce the distress and improve the long-term outlook of people bereaved during the coronavirus pandemic, enabling them to improve their resilience, functioning and wellbeing. The service is there to help people feel safe to explore their thoughts and feelings, understand grief and develop copying strategies. I hope it can provide the much-needed support and comfort that people need at such a difficult time.”
In the first instance, for those over 18, telephone support calls will be provided by Marie Curie Companions, specially trained volunteers who can offer emotional support to bereaved people or support in some cases pre-bereavement. The service can also provide support to professionals in Somerset dealing with bereavement in their work setting.
Julia Bearne, Marie Curie Community Engagement and Development Manager, said: “When someone close to you dies it is, and has always been, terribly difficult. Sadly, we know that the recent restrictions enforced because of the coronavirus are making it even harder.
“This service is not only for those who have lost someone directly to coronavirus, but for anyone experiencing grief, whatever stage they may be at. We anticipate many callers will have lost someone during or just prior to the lock down period and are either grieving in isolation, were not able to see their loved one before they died or perhaps were not able to attend the funeral.
“Our Companions offer comfort, a friendly voice and a listening ear. Please don’t be afraid to reach out for help, so often talking to someone can make a huge difference.”
Where further support is needed, the Marie Curie Companion volunteers will carefully link people to specialist Mind in Somerset bereavement support workers who will deliver up to six bereavement counselling sessions. This service is available to adults and children over 12 years.
Susan Hoyle, Bereavement Lead, Mind in Somerset, said: “We would like people to know, including professionals and young people, that we are here for you to help and support if you have experienced a loss during these very difficult times.”
Louise Finnis, Public Health Specialist, Somerset County Council, said: “This is an exciting piece of partnership work which we are seeing so much of during the coronavirus pandemic. I am delighted such experienced charities will be able to support Somerset people at this difficult time.”
If you or someone you know, is affected by grief or bereavement, and would like to talk to someone, please call the Somerset Bereavement Support Service on 0800 3047 412 (Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm)