A drop-in service for newly bereaved people has been established at Nuneaton’s Mary Ann Evans Hospice, thanks to a £12,723 grant from Warwickshire Freemasons.

The grant from Warwickshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

The grant has been awarded for a new strand of bereavement support called Stepping Stones, which is a regular drop-in session for people who are newly bereaved.  We invite people to come along for some light refreshments and an opportunity to meet with a few other people who are experiencing grief in its early stages.

The hospice is working in partnership with Nuneaton Crematorium and three local funeral directors with this project to encourage more people to access bereavement support where needed. Many people do not know they can access the hospice’s bereavement support network, especially if they have not previously been connected with it.  Funeral directors offer supportive great support to their customers around the time of death but are very aware of the limitations of their role.  It therefore makes perfect sense for funeral directors, the Crematorium and the hospice to form a partnership.

In the last six months of 2017 the Hospice’s bereavement service facilitated approximately 1,800 visits to its bespoke building, the Warren.  Over 200 people of all ages regularly access the different kinds of bereavement support being offered.

It is vitally important that children and young people know they can come to a place where their grief is going to be acknowledged and supported in a confidential setting.  A parent of children under 18 dies every 22 minutes in the UK; around 23,600 a year. That means 111 children are being bereaved every day. One in every 29 schoolchildren has been bereaved of a parent or sibling – that’s a child in every class.  If children and young people are not offered the right levels of bereavement support the grief will come out some years later, often in disruptive behaviour.

Pauline, whose son sadly died this year, said: “I contacted the Mary Ann Evans Hospice bereavement support service four years ago.  My son, Neil had been going through a particularly difficult time with his life-limiting illness.  I have really valued having the space to talk with someone over this period time and especially since his death.”

Gill Hancock, Director of Family Support Services from Mary Ann Evans Hospice commented: “We’re very grateful to Warwickshire Freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to help many more newly bereaved people, so that they are not suffering in silence.”

Geoff Walker from Warwickshire Freemasons said: “We’re very pleased to be able to help the Mary Ann Evans Hospice with their Stepping Stones project for newly bereaved people. The pain of losing a loved one is very difficult to bear at any time, but it’s especially difficult for young people. If they don’t get the right support when they need it, the long term effects can damage their lives for years into the future.”