For some years there has been considerable concern about people with an enduring mental health condition, who reach a point when they have to face up to the ageing, and inevitable loss of the close family carers who have been offering loving support, usually for many years.

Also ageing carers themselves worry about bereavement support which might be available for their relative, before, during and following their death. Not everybody has younger family members, who not only live near enough but are prepared to support somebody with a mental illness through the trauma of close family bereavement.

The Friends therefore initiated a Bereavement Project.   Gina Jolley, a member of the Management Committee of the Friends helped to develop the Project which is now run, with financial support from the Friends by John Nicholson, the senior chaplain for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust.   Gina here describes how this project has progressed.

A coordinated team of professional volunteers and a steering group discussed the unmet need within bereavement in the community  for mental health users once their primary carers are no longer around. With the encouragement of a network of key professionals from organisations and charities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, specific training compassionately led and managed by John Nicholson was provided.

The cohort of professional volunteers now developed  has maintained a close bond and continues to meet, share knowledge and maintain their continuous professional development to help those in need at a difficult time in their lives. The dedication, commitment and enthusiasm from all those involved are inspiring.

The Friends‘ Management Committee is working on the funding for the cohort’s voluntary working structure and coordinates the steering group. Every step is taken to ensure good practice thus providing a concrete and secure foundation for the future quality of care for all those who seek and use the services.

We want to create a bereavement service that helps people in our mental health community when they experience grief, particularly the loss of their significant carer.  We will also support the primary carers who experience significant loss if their loved ones with mental health illness pass away.