Train to be a Cruse Volunteer | Become a Bereavement Supporter

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Volunteer to support bereaved people

Join our team of dedicated volunteers and help change the lives of bereaved people.

Volunteer to Help Bereaved People

Cruse helps thousands of people each year with individual bereavement support. This can take place over the phone, online or in-person (when social distancing guidelines permit).

For many clients this will be the first time they have asked for help with their grief, and having someone to talk to will make a real difference. For some people their bereavement will be recent and others may be in a later stage of grieving. Our volunteers are there to listen and provide vital emotional support.

You can choose to volunteer for your local Cruse branch or join or Virtual Support Service. If you take part in our Virtual Support Service, you will be supporting clients remotely from all over the UK, therefore all our volunteer work will be from home. It is essential that you have a quiet and confidential place to work, when supporting clients.

Am I suited?

We welcome applications from anyone aged over 18. You don’t need to be a trained counsellor or have previous experience to become a Bereavement Volunteer. We look for people who are good listeners, resilient and are empathetic and supportive.

Essential qualities:

  • Empathetic, approachable and warm
  • Reliable and trustworthy
  • A proactive approach to self-care
  • Open to receiving feedback
  • Self-reflective approach to learning and development

Volunteers need to be comfortable talking about death and grief. Many of our volunteers have personal experience of bereavement but this is not essential. Due to the nature of the subject and the clients we support, along with our commitment to volunteer wellbeing, we are unable to accept applications from those who have been bereaved in the past two years.

“Supporting people through bereavement is one of the most meaningful things that I have ever done.  It is so satisfying to hear people make progress in dealing with the barrage of different and distressing feelings that we can all feel during bereavement.  I feel so privileged to be trusted by people experiencing grief and to be in a position to be alongside them during part of their journey.” 

Guy, Bereavement Volunteer

Training and support

Every volunteer receives full training, irrespective of previous skills and knowledge, so you will feel fully prepared for the support you will give to clients.

Free Bereavement Foundation training

Four sessions of four hours delivered on Zoom by experienced trainers. This training includes grief theories and models, in-depth awareness of the impact of grief, and an opportunity for experiential learning.  This is followed by additional skills practice, training for ongoing telephone and zoom support, working with suicide, trauma and self care.

Assigned supervisor

All volunteers are assigned a supervisor to make sure they are supported in their role. Bereavement Volunteers need to be emotionally robust to help bereaved clients, so a high emphasis is placed on self-care and feeling fully supported through supervision.

Group supervision

Volunteers form small groups, meeting once a month for two hours with an experienced supervisor. Here you would be able to discuss the process of your work, explore concerns and celebrate successes.  

Continuing professional development

Bereavement Volunteers are expected to attend at least 15 hours of CPD training per year. There  will be regular opportunities to access training in the broad areas of grief and loss. This training is free.

Time commitment

Clients are usually seen once a week for a number of sessions (usually between one and six). We ask for a minimum commitment of supporting two clients at a time. Clients can be allocated based on availability of the bereavement volunteer. You can see clients at a time that works for you, whether that be during the day, early evening or weekends.

How do I become a volunteer?

There are two ways to become a Cruse Bereavement Volunteer. If you would like to volunteer locally, please contact your local branch to find out when they are next running training for new volunteers. Alternatively, if you would like to join our Virtual Support Service you can meet us at an Open Day - we will advertise these on this page.

1. Come to an open day or contact your local Cruse branch

If you are interested in becoming a bereavement volunteer for our Virtual Support Service, please come to one of our open days and meet the team. You'll hear all about our work, our clients and what's it like to support clients. If you would like to see clients in your local area please contact your nearest Cruse branch to find out when they are next running a training course.

2. Fill out an application

We will ask you to fill in an application telling us a bit more about yourself and why you would like to become one of our volunteers.

3. Come to an interview

We will arrange an informal interview when we can get to know you a bit better and you can clarify any doubts you may have and assess your suitability

4. Do the training

You are now ready to start your training and have a supervisor assigned to you.

5. Get a DBS check

We work with vulnerable adults so before you can become one of our volunteers we will need to run a criminal record check and obtain references.

6. Join the team

After a couple of months, you are ready to be part of the team and help Cruse support more people.

Bereavement Volunteer FAQs

Why do I have to wait until two years after a significant bereavement before I can volunteer?

Listening to the stories of our clients can bring back feelings about our own bereavement. The training to become a volunteer is also quite intense and you would be expected to share your experiences, which might be very hard for you.  It is important for our volunteers to feel safe which is why for people with recent personal experience we usually recommend that they wait two years following a bereavement before becoming a volunteer.

I am a qualified counsellor; do I have to do the training before I can become a volunteer?

All applicants must attend our Bereavement Foundation Course and modules to become a bereavement volunteer, irrespective of prior knowledge or qualifications. This is to ensure that all volunteers work the same way and take all Cruse policies and procedures into account when working with clients.

I am a student and looking for a placement, do you provide placement opportunities?

We are sometimes able to support applicants looking for a placement with Cruse, ask on application. You will also need to check with your place of education that Cruse is suitable. We also have a student placement policy that you will need to adhere to, this is available upon application.

Where will the training take place?

All training is currently taking place over webinar (using Zoom). 

How many hours of volunteering am I expected to do?

Our expectation is that you take up to 2 clients at a time and these will be allocated to you based on both yours and the client’s availability. Ideally when seeing a client, this would be the same day each week, to allow for easier allocation however, we understand that people have busy lives and are grateful for the precious gift of volunteer time. You must also attend monthly supervision to ensure you are fully supported in your work along with attending regular ongoing training throughout the year.

I am happy to provide telephone support, do I have to use my own phone or will one be provided?

Due to the amount of volunteers we have, it is not possible to provide everyone with a phone. Volunteers may use their own phone (landline or mobile) but in the interests of confidentiality, are required to use 141 before dialing a number, to ensure the number you are calling from is withheld. Many volunteers use their own mobiles if they have a contract as most calls are now free, however if you would prefer not to use your own phone, we do have a call system in place that can be used and training will be provided on how to access this.

I don’t have a Zoom account and I’ve not really used it before, can you help?

Absolutely! One of our training modules is around using Zoom with clients which will teach you how to use the platform during client sessions to ensure you feel comfortable in delivering support this way. When using zoom with clients, we will provide you with a paid zoom account to use.

Why can’t I volunteer for in-person support?

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all of our in-person services were suspended. In the coming months, there is a hope to return to face to face support within our local branches. 

I am really interested in volunteering for your virtual service, but missed the recent Open Day. Is there another one coming up?

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Cruse Bereavement Volunteer. We are planning to make our Open Days a regular event. Please keep an eye on the Cruse Facebook page where future sessions will be advertised.