Aim The aim is to assess the bereavement needs in Newham and to provide support that is sensitive to the cultural, religious and language requirements of the borough’s population. The service operates via a compassionate community model, providing training to enable the local population to support people within their locality, as well as improving local knowledge around death and grief.
Background Newham has a diverse community, with 68% of its 247,614 population coming from Black and minority ethnic communities (ONS, 2008). The estimated number of deaths in Newham in 2008 was 1,437 (ONS, 2008), yet the majority of those bereaved did not access professional support. Cultural attitudes to death and grieving could prevent people from accessing formal bereavement services and many people could be unaware of other areas of support they could access.
Approach Volunteers, who are reflective of the local community, are being trained, on an on-going basis, as befrienders, allowing those who may not choose to access professionally led services to receive support and information following bereavement. Referrals are triaged to the service via Newham Psychological Services who partner us in providing this service. The service is mainly operated by volunteers, with only two members of staff dedicated to the service on a part-time basis.
Findings and Recommendations We evaluate the impact of our service by measuring several factors including how the support has affected service user’s lives.
Conclusion The services is in its first year, of three commissioned, but has had a strong start up with a high number of volunteers trained and ‘active’. The level of uptake will allow us to find out the gaps in service provision/uptake and the need for informal support. This model could be replicated in other boroughs if the need and response is supported.
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