Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice has launched a new telephone bereavement service, which will support grieving adults during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The vital service will see experienced volunteers provide one-to-one support to individuals, creating a safe and confidential space where they can talk through their feelings of grief openly and without judgement.

Launched on Monday 27 April, the telephone service is free-of-charge and is open to all adults in the Birmingham area over the age of 18. The service can be accessed by anybody who has been bereaved – no matter how the person died or whether the death was recent or a long time ago.

Beth Hopkins, the bereavement counsellor who is leading the service at Birmingham St Mary’s, said: “Now, more than ever, we know people are going to experience bereavement who will need care, compassion and someone to talk to. That’s why we’re launching our bereavement telephone service, so that we can support people who are experiencing grief during this very difficult time.

“Grief is such a complex thing; it can make people feel a whole range of different emotions, such as anger, guilt and exhaustion. Sadly, as a society, we don’t talk openly about death and dying, so a lot of people tend to bottle up these feelings – but this can have such a detrimental effect on people’s mental health.

“By talking to one of our experienced volunteers, we can help people to understand their grief and learn to cope better with their loss. We’ll be there to offer a listening ear, as well as help individuals to develop tools and coping strategies that work for them.”

Once social distancing restrictions are lifted, the Hospice plans to roll out this service as face-to-face Bereavement Hubs across the city. The Hubs will take place in community locations and will be a safe place people can visit for group counselling and support.

Beth continued: “As a hospice, we have skills and expertise in supporting people through bereavement and so we want to share this knowledge with the wider community. That’s why, once it is safe to do so, we want to set up Bereavement Hubs in locations across the city, so that we could support more people who are grieving – regardless of whether their loved one had been cared for by the Hospice or not.”

Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice is a local charity which cares for individuals, family members, loved ones and carers who are living with life-limiting illness. The Hospice is currently providing urgent care on its Inpatient Unit and in people’s homes – including caring for patients with Covid-19. Its expert team of doctors, nurses, bereavement counsellors and more are also offering digital consultations and phone support to patients and their loved ones during the crisis.

The Hospice’s new telephone bereavement service is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. The service is free-of-charge to use but your phone operator may charge you at your standard rate to make the call. To access the service, please call Beth Hopkins, bereavement counsellor, on 07966 165287. Or you can email bereavement@birminghamhospice.org.uk.

The Hospice is also looking for volunteers to help provide this vital service. It’s looking for individuals who have skills in supporting vulnerable people, or who is a trainee or experienced counsellor. To find out more, please visit here.

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