Jennifer has been a bereavement volunteer for Cruse Brighton and Hove for over 30 years. This year at our special 60th anniversary conference, Jennifer was presented with the President’s Award by Dr Colin Murray Parkes for her commitment and dedication to the charity.
Jennifer says: “I always knew of Cruse through working in the NHS. I was previously a Samaritan and wanted to be able to follow and support a client and so decided to do the Cruse training.
“The letter of welcome promised me a client "soon" as there was no waiting list at the time! I wanted to help people and see the change support could offer someone on their grief pathway.
“I find it rewarding to see people on the way to re-engage with life and able to function in their own right again after a bereavement.
“I am a supervisor for my area, Cruse Brighton and Hove and support bereavement volunteers after their training and help them to develop their own individual ways of helping others.
“In a way, I think every new client or issue is a challenge as feelings and problems can be diverse and unexpected. Deep depression and suicidal thoughts are also very challenging as it can be difficult to get in touch with a person unwilling or unable to communicate. I remember a client eventually agreeing to an ambulance call after an overdose, I was able to see him the following day and he received full help.
“I was proud to be presented to the Queen at the Cruse Reception in 2009 on behalf of my branch. My admiration for our organisation was also reinforced when I attended sessions at the Humanitarian Centre at the RHS Halls and Westminster Flat. It was great to see how all the services worked so well together. I had previously been to the Disaster training at Sidcup and later helped at the next one at Crawley.
“I find that when talking to new potential clients that I mostly reassure them that the grief, unreality and isolation they feel can be helped by Cruse and is felt by many bereaved people. This usually gives clients comfort and lets them know that they are not alone on this journey.
“To anyone considering training to be a bereavement volunteer, I would say to be prepared to evaluate yourself, your beliefs and lifestyle as you learn. The training and being a volunteer for Cruse is one of the most rewarding experiences you will have and it will enhance your life, as it has for me during my time with Cruse.”
Read more 60 Voices, here.