A year of Cruse support | Cruse Bereavement Care

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Our pandemic year

Read about how we helped people across the UK during one of the most challenging years in recent memory.

Rising to the challenge

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK in March 2020 Cruse was faced with a huge challenge. How were we going to support the many thousands of people affected? And how could we provide this support while keeping our clients and volunteers safe? 

People were dying in traumatic circumstances, and as the first lock-down started people grieving in isolation without the support of friends and family, and deprived of the chance to say a proper goodbye, or hold a funeral the way they would wish. 

Thanks to the efforts and flexibility of our volunteers and staff we were able to respond incredibly quickly:

Keeping everyone safe: Thanks to the hard work of our staff and volunteers we were able to immediately start offering support over the telephone (and later online) to replace the in person support sessions which were no longer safe to hold.

Keeping everyone informed: Within three days of the Prime Minister’s first broadcast to the Nation we had added a comprehensive new coronavirus section to our website, and we have continued to add to and adapt our online information, which was visited by nearly a million people over the year.

Finding new ways to support people: We weWe also set up a new Chat function on our website,

Expanding our support: Thanks to funding from the Department of Health, the National Lottery, the National Emergencies Trust and many others, we have been able to raise more funds than ever before, and expand the support offered via our helpline, answering 30,000 calls over the year – twice as many as the year before. 

Our volunteers have been hearing first-hand about the terrible effects of the pandemic, and our efforts to increase the support we provide will be ongoing. We’re now starting to make plans for the day, hopefully soon, when we can go back to supporting everyone in the way that suits them best, whether that’s in person, in groups, on the phone or via Zoom. But we’ll also be looking at how we can take what we’ve learned during this exceptional period about how we can be flexible and agile when supporting bereaved people.

Sam’s dad died during the pandemic and she received Zoom group support from Cruse. This film shows how we all adapted, but more than that, how vital and incredible the support has been. 

Who we helped in 2019/20

Our helpline provides a place to turn when people are at their most desperate. Our growing team of trained volunteers were able to answer twice as many calls as last year and provide a life line to people grieving in isolation.

Our brand  new online Cruse Chat service launched on our website in June 2020 offering a new way for people to get in touch with us. Since then we have held nearly 25,000 chats with people visiting our website, offering a supportive conversation and information about how to get more help.

"So first I called the National Helpline, and the lady who answered was lovely – hugely caring, and we talked for nearly an hour. I was then in touch with my local Cruse, and was offered support after six weeks, all by telephone. 

"The support from Cruse helped me to deal with the trauma of how I lost my Mum, and then I could get into the ‘normal’ grief. My Bereavement Volunteer would just listen, and then she would pull something from what I said, that really helped me to reflect – she just asked me the right questions, which prompted my brain to think in a different way."

Karen, whose mother died in March 2020

Fundraising during the pandemic

Fundraising is always a challenge, and we are so very grateful that during a pandemic our supporters stepped up to the mark, and our funders recognised the continuing importance of our work.

By late Spring 2020 it was clear that the many exciting events we were planning for the year would have to be cancelled to keep everyone safe.  

But the way everyone pulled together, means that instead of income going down, which we thought it might – it has actually increased.

  • With the support of organisations like the National Lottery we were able to quickly mobilise our pandemic response. And with the help of the National Emergencies Trust, we’ve been able to begin setting up a remote team – so for the first time we’ll be able to support bereaved people wherever they are. 
  • Locally, funders including trusts, community foundations and Awards for All have supported 80 areas, raising nearly a million pounds to help our services to keep delivering the vital support people need.
  • We had 102 people take part in our first ever virtual challenge event, the Big Coastal Challenge. And between them they raised £47,000
  • Almost 700 Loss and Bereavement training webinars have been delivered to businesses, meaning around 7,000 more people have a greater understanding of bereavement and the tools to support themselves, and each other.
  • We’ve raised nearly £200,000 from corporates, including the funding of a Children and Young Persons Lead, who will help us to expand our services and improve the offer we have for children who are devastated by the death of a loved one or friend.
  • We were delighted to be chosen as one of the charities for the Telegraph Christmas appeal, with multiple stories in the newspaper highlighting the effects of grief during the pandemic. The appeal raised £170,000 for our work.
  • And over 2,000 individuals have made a one-off donation, either because they want to give back for the support they’ve received, or simply because they can see how much of an impact the work we do has on lives.

The fact that so many people and organisations have come forward to support us in this way is truly humbling – and really does show important and valued our work is. 

Find out more about fundraising for Cruse

"Having benefited from Cruse’s services myself, I know how important they are. Death and bereavement are a fact of life, and those left behind will always need help. When my wife died, she was able to be at home, and her sister and I could be at her side. Many people have not had that comfort during this pandemic.

I found The Big Coastal Challenge a fun way to raise money for an important cause. Exchanging supportive messages with other participants through the Facebook group has been enjoyable, too."

James, Big Coastal Challenge participant

We'd like to offer a big thank you to everyone who has made our work possible this year - to all our amazing volunteers and supporters, to everyone who has donated to our appeals, and to our many funders. We couldn't do the vital work we do without you!

Very grateful to you guys. I lost my mum earlier this year to Cancer. The loss was overwhelming but you helped me through the worst of it. Thank you.


Thank you for your continued support. I would be truly lost without your service


Thank you for such amazing support. Cruse has saved my life ... literally. I hope to be able to volunteer in the future and help others like me.