In the photo:
Here’s Kat, one of the Bereavement Support Volunteer (BSV) in a St Wilfrid Hospice‘s counselling rooms. BSVs offer a space to explore someone’s bereavement, what a death means to them and how they can go on to live their lives and still include the person who has died without becoming overwhelmed.
What did your volunteers do?
When the pandemic struck, BSVs had to adapt quickly and learn how to provide support over Zoom or telephone. Lots of people were experiencing complex bereavement and there was a lot of unmet need within our community.
Healthcare workers also needed a space to share the trauma of witnessing multiple deaths to prevent burnout and in some cases PTSD. Usually working with those already known to the hospice, the service was upscaled so that anyone locally could access support. A dedicated team of BSVs, specially trained in bereavement care, responded to the challenge with compassion and professionalism.
How did your volunteers make a difference?
BSVs have provided support to an average of 90 people per month over the past 18 months. Providing 1:1 support to people from the age of 5 right up to 92 who have had someone important die, BSVs have heard how COVID has ‘cheated’ families from being able to visit loved ones in hospital and increasingly how many more deaths from suicide are happening.
Already isolated by their bereavement BSVs have heard that the lockdowns have impacted people enormously, particularly as they were not able to get comfort from friends or from normal social engagements such as funerals and wakes.