Open letter to government on funding for bereavement services responding to Covid-19





In an open letter to the Minister for the Cabinet Office, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, the group, led by the Childhood Bereavement Network and the National Bereavement Alliance, describe how physical distancing is affecting death and mourning during the outbreak, and how they expect this to impact on bereavement over the coming months.

The letter reads:

Dear Minister

The grief of families, friends and colleagues is the inevitable and painful legacy of the COVID-19 outbreak. However much we succeed in flattening the peak and maintaining the capacity of the NHS, many thousands of people are already mourning loved ones and many more will join them.

The physical distancing measures so necessary for public health have upsetting consequences for all bereaved people at this time, whether the death was through coronavirus, cancer, cardiac arrest or another cause. Many family members and friends cannot spend time saying goodbye to dying loved ones, cannot have the funeral they would choose, and cannot hug and comfort one another in person. These barriers between us make grief so much harder to bear at this time, and will linger as painful memories for those affected. We expect to see an increase in complex grief reactions in the coming months.

Just as the need for bereavement care services is set to increase, these organisations are having to find new ways of delivering support, bringing people together to combat the loneliness of grief, and providing 1:1 support and counselling to children and adults who need it. At the same time, these crucial services are facing major drops in income as fundraising events are cancelled, training courses postponed and charity shops closed.

The legacy of grief from these exceptional times will last for months and years to come. The work of those responding to this grief is only just beginning.  We urge the Government to recognise their crucial contribution to protecting the nation from the consequences of COVID-19, and to support these services over time.

The letter is signed by

Alison Penny (for correspondence), Director Childhood Bereavement Network, Coordinator National Bereavement Alliance

Emma Kneebone, Bereavement Services Manager, 2 Wish Upon A Star

Yvonne Richmond Tulloch, Founder and CEO, At a Loss

Sara Bennett, CEO, Balloons

Clare Yilmaz, Head of Children and Young People’s Services, CancerHelp (Preston) Ltd

Ann Chalmers, Chief Executive, Child Bereavement UK

Natasha Williamson, Counselling & Family Support Team, Claire House Children’s Hospice

Justine Wilson, Bereavement Services Manager, Compton Care

Steven Wibberley, Chief Executive, Cruse Bereavement Care

Keith Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland

Gill Stevens, Director, Daisy’s Dream

Linda Sterry, Service Manager, Funeral Link

Liz Dempsey, Clinical Servcies Director, Grief Encounter

Sarah Hill, Head of GriefChat, GriefChat

Jojo Gosney, Project Lead, Harbour Counselling

Odette Mould, CEO & Family Liaison Officer, Harry’s Rainbow

Nicola Welsh, CEO, Held In Our Hearts

Jennifer Hattan, Service Manager, Jigsaw (South East)

Jane Robinson, Manager, Leeds Bereavement Forum

Tina Mangar, Family Support Worker, Living On Bereavement Service

Matthew Reed, CEO, Marie Curie

Kay Greene, Director of Clinical Services, Mary Ann Evans Hospice

Marie Faux, Senior Sister, Mary Stevens Hospice

Margaret Hannibal MBE, CEO, Mosaic Supporting Bereaved Children

Chris James, Director of External Affairs, Motor Neurone Disease Association

Jean Watkins, Head of Bereavement, National Bereavement Service

Susan Daniell, Bereavement Service Coordinator, North London Hospice

Becky Thomas, Family Services Manager, Penhaligon’s Friends

Alison Glynne-Jones, Bereavement Service Coordinator, Princess Alice Hospice

Catherine Betley, Managing Director, Professional Help

Zillah Bingley, Chief Executive, Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity

Donna Hastings, Children and Families Worker, St Columba’s Hospice Care

Sharon Cornford , Bereavement Services Manager,  St Joseph’s Hospice

Rebecka Sparks, Specialist Palliative Care Social Worker, St Richard’s Hospice

Ann-Marie McKiernan, Stars service coordinator & lead counsellor, Stars

Sarah Gigg, Director of Nursing & Interim Director of Hospices, Sue Ryder

Sarah Bates, Executive Lead, Support After Suicide Partnership

Carolyn Brice, Chief Executive, The Compassionate Friends

Robert Cuming, CEO, The Counselling Foundation

Linda Magistris, CEO, The Good Grief Trust

Dr Erin Hope Thompson, Founder & Director, The Loss Foundation

Dayna Cook, Care Support Lead, The Norfolk Hospice

Julie Stokes OBE, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, The Preston Associates

Andy Fletcher, Chief Executive, Together for Short Lives

Vicki Quarton, Bereavement Support Director, Touchstones Child Bereavement Support

Jane Gibbins, Counselling Team Leader, Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospices

Peter Taylor, Elected Mayor of Watford, Watford Bereavement Support Group

Rebecca Cooper, CEO, WAY Widowed and Young

Melissa Hillier, Director, We Hear You

Fergus Crow, Chief Executive, Winston’s Wish