Bereavement Supporter Project - volunteer stories | Cruse Bereavement Care

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The feelings and challenges tree
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The feelings and challenges tree

This tree was created by ExtraCare residents, using their fingerprints and words.  The Project Reference Group (residents and staff) felt a tree symbolised the many different ‘branches’ of emotions and challenges that can be faced following a loss or bereavement. 

Sister Etega Wright, a Bereavement Supporter volunteer, Pannel Croft village said: “When I meet with a bereaved resident sometimes I encourage them to use the tree to explain how they feel. Some people point at the colours to express how they are feeling. I think this is a very important tool to use if they can’t put their emotions into words. 

"We might look at the tree again together next time we meet, to see if they feel the same. It can help someone to see a change, or where they want to be”.


Village Residents

Millie and George are residents at Pannel Croft village in Birmingham and both trained as Bereavement Supporters for the project, to help those residents who experience bereavement. Jenny is a Bereavement Supporter volunteer in Earlsdon Park village.

Millie, current volunteer:
"Living in a village with over 55 year olds means that bereavement, and how people cope with it, can’t be ignored. You always sympathise with the person and give your condolences, but you don’t always know how the person is feeling. I don’t want to tread on toes and say the wrong thing so when the Cruse project started and they were recruiting Bereavement Supporter volunteers in the village I applied.

"The training was very good. It helped with knowing the right things to say and it helped learning to support the person and not take over. The volunteers have also found that bereavement isn’t just about the death, it’s the knock-on effect that brings up wider issues like finance, relationships.

"The training helps with this as it provides a network of signposting so the volunteer can point the bereaved person in the right direction.

"Bereavement is part of life. It’s not going away. Death is still a taboo subject but is something that has to be talked about. Death knows no age so you need to talk about it now."

Jenny, current volunteer:
"I met up with a recently bereaved resident to offer support. We went out the village which gave her an opportunity to talk about how she was feeling. Listening is so important with bereavement support and gives the person a chance to offload, and share things that they can’t always talk to their family about. She thanked me and said it had helped. I find it rewarding knowing that someone has benefitted from my support."

George, previous volunteer:
"Over the years I’ve had close friends and well-loved family members die. These experiences have motivated me to give support in a manner that can ease distress. Pannel Croft is my home – a place that offers me quality care and shelter.

"Cruse training has given me what I regard as added value to enable me to deliver and become a more informed bereavement supporter in my village."

Image:L to R Christine Williams, George Gordon, Eve Wilson and Millie Gobbinsingh

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