Bereavement care scheme gets underway

Social group launched for recently bereaved lonely people in Birmingham.

People left lonely and isolated following bereavement will be able to make new friends and beat loneliness thanks to a new scheme launched in Birmingham.

The largest bereavement charity in the UK, Cruse Bereavement Care in collaboration with the British Red Cross and Co-op, have set up the More Than Words scheme which aims to start up social groups for people left feeling isolated after the death of a loved one.

The introduction of the scheme comes after Co-op recently launched the UK’s biggest ever survey into death, dying and bereavement, finding that almost all (97%) of UK adults have suffered a bereavement in their lives.

The findings showed one in seven Brits (14%) felt others didn’t know what to say or do following a bereavement, and a further 17% felt the least helpful thing someone could do would be to avoid the subject completely, highlighting the support that’s needed at this incredibly hard time.

As a result of the findings, Co-op is committed to working with the British Red Cross and Cruse Bereavement Care to determine solutions to the issues the nationwide survey uncovered.

People who are experiencing loneliness following bereavement are being encouraged to join the social group, who will run activities such as free or low cost outings to cafes, parks and museums. While people will be supported to talk about their loss if they wish, there is no obligation to do so with the focus on fostering new friendships and overcoming isolation.

People are urged to sign up as ‘champions’ to run the social events and support others who have experienced bereavement. The social group in Birmingham is free to join and open to people of any age who have been affected by any kind of bereavement – from the loss of a spouse to miscarriage or stillbirth or the sudden death of a loved one.

To find out more about the More Than Words group in Birmingham or to register to attend, go to cruse.org.uk/more-than-words, email morethanwords@cruse.org.uk or call Cruse Bereavement Care on 02089399534.

After registering interest in joining the group, a staff member or volunteer from Cruse Bereavement Care will get in touch with more information about the local group.

Alex Robertson, Project Manager at Cruse, said: “It’s really common to feel lonely or isolated after bereavement – even with a network of friends, colleagues and relatives, people can still feel they have no one to turn to.

“People can also feel angry, depressed, afraid and guilty – and these can all make it harder to reach out to others. The important thing is there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel and there is no limit as to how long such emotions may last.

“For many people, the death of another – especially someone they were very close to – can create or enhance feelings of emptiness both in the immediate, and longer term. More Than Words is a new, unique service, specifically designed to provide people who have been bereaved with opportunities to meet others who may be feeling similar emotions.

“We’ve found that some of the people we support want something to go onto after one-to-one support, and sometimes people want something less formal and want to meet others who have had a similar experience. More Than Words focuses on peer-led activities including coffee and cake meet-ups, walks, art groups and museum visits. It is run by and for bereaved individuals who want to get to know others who are, or have felt physically or emotionally alone at some stage after bereavement.”

Zoe Abrams, executive director of communications and advocacy at the British Red Cross, added: “A major life transition such as bereavement can leave people more at risk of loneliness and vulnerable to losing social connections. We also know that unless loneliness is tackled early on, it can develop from a temporary situation into a chronic issue, which in turn can have damaging consequences to physical and mental health.

“By collaborating with Cruse Bereavement Care we aim to help those who have been bereaved take small steps to make new friends and rebuild connections in their communities.”

Robert Maclachlan, Managing Director of Co-op Funeralcare and Life Planning, said: “At Co-op we understand that bereavement is completely unique to every person involved and everyone deals with it in different ways. It’s a common misconception that bereaved people don’t want to talk, which is why I’m not surprised that our national survey found that people felt that others didn’t know what to say or do when they were recently bereaved.

‘’One of the most comforting things for people can be getting back into a routine and the support of others is an essential part of this. Now that we have such a wealth of insight on what stops the nation engaging with bereavement, we can start to address these areas and work with others, such as Cruse Bereavement Care and the British Red Cross, to drive genuine social change.”