2021 – Our pandemic response

The Covid-19 pandemic continued to be the biggest challenge for Cruse in 2021 - bringing additional heartbreak to bereaved people and speeding up our changes to new ways of working.

The UK has experienced an epidemic of grief and a mass bereavement event. As one of the worst affected European countries with the highest number of deaths, the impact will be felt for many years.

The pandemic brought problems above and beyond the estimated 2.5 million additional bereaved people who lost someone to the virus. Everyone who experienced bereavement during (and in many cases before) the pandemic will have been affected. We’ve had to cope with isolation during periods of lockdown, not being able say goodbye and heartbreaking disruption to funerals and the usual ways people gather and support each other when someone dies.

What we know

It’s clear from research that people bereaved from Covid-19 are experiencing higher levels of grief. At Cruse we saw an initial dip in demand for services at the start of the pandemic but have since seen the number of people we support increase. In the first year of the pandemic (April 2020 to March 2021):

  • The total number of people supported by a volunteer or member of staff rose by 52%
  • Those supported by the helpline rose by 100%
  • Visits to the website rose by 37%
  • Social media reach rose by 37%

Additional evidence shows:

  • Length of calls to our helpline increasing
  • More people approaching with complex mental health issues
  • An increase in safeguarding concerns.

Adapting our services

We’ve continued to constantly review our services and develop new ways of supporting people. As the pandemic has played out we have brought back services which were suspended – we started reintroducting in-person support to those who needed it most, starting with support in schools. Most of our individual support continues to be by phone or zoom, but some areas introduced support in-person in the later part of the year where it was safe to do so.

We’ve continued with new forms of support like CruseChat, and added a grief assessment tool with tailored video advice to the website. With every decision we have to balance the best possible support with safety for our clients, staff and and volunteers.

Learning for the future

It’s going to be vital that we learn from our experience through this pandemic and keep the changes that work – both for servcies in more normal times, and in preparation for any future mass bereavement events.

  • We’ve learned how valuable it is to have a nationwide network in different locations, able to step in and help each other where needed.
  • We’re learning about the affects of carrying out support remotely, and initial evidence (publication pending) shows that progresss progress is similar via in-person support and over the telephone.
  • Changing our servcies is highlighting needs and groups of people we weren’t reaching before. We will be working hard to reach these groups in the future.