Cruse bereavement care, Shropshire

PUBLISHED: 10:55 20 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:04 20 February 2013

Above: Cruse counsellors for Shropshire. Back row left to right: Roy Bell, Gwenan Evans, Nick Smith, Angela Bell, Dot Wilson, Sylvia Payne, David Kippax, Pauline Griffith, Anne Wignall. Seated, left to right: Ute Dorner, Lorraine Manley, Brenda Barker, Judith Howland and June Middleton

Above: Cruse counsellors for Shropshire. Back row left to right: Roy Bell, Gwenan Evans, Nick Smith, Angela Bell, Dot Wilson, Sylvia Payne, David Kippax, Pauline Griffith, Anne Wignall. Seated, left to right: Ute Dorner, Lorraine Manley, Brenda Barker, Judith Howland and June Middleton

Everyone experiences bereavement and while family and friends may struggle to know how to help, there is a team of volunteers across Shropshire available to offer advice, support and a willing ear.

A guide through grief

Everyone experiences bereavement and while family and friends may struggle to know how to help, there is a team of volunteers across Shropshire available to offer advice, support and a willing ear. Rachel Crow found out about the invaluable work of Shropshire Cruse Bereavement Care

The national charity Cruse Bereavement Care celebrated its Golden Jubilee Year in 2009 with branches now spread across the country. The Shropshire arm, founded in 1986, has given support to countless bereaved people and the demand for its services continues to grow.
Through a team of carefully selected, trained and dedicated volunteers, Cruse provides a free and confidential service to anyone who has been bereaved. Children, young people or adults can seek out the support of a counsellor at any point through face-to-face meetings, via the telephone or by email.

Death is a difficult issue to come to terms with and everyone experiences and deals with grief in different ways. Cruse policy is to treat each person as an individual with their own needs and to offer the support that we believe is appropriate for them at that particular time in their life, explains the Chair of Shropshire Cruse, June Middleton. People who have been bereaved and contact us are really low and just want to speak to somebody. Sometimes it just takes that one person to sit with you and talk to you. Often other people, including their family and friends are frightened, and worried about upsetting them, and dont know what to say.

June, along with her daughter, became a volunteer counsellor for Cruse five years ago while training for a counselling diploma at college. Now retired, June has given up her free time to a host of volunteer work over the years, which was recognised two years ago when she was awarded an MBE.

I just enjoy it and now my main thing is Cruse and I feel very passionate about it and find it so rewarding, she explains. I hadnt heard of Cruse before I joined, as many havent in the county.

The Shropshire branch has nearly 60 volunteers drawn from all ages (20s to 80s), backgrounds and corners of the county. Their motivations for volunteering vary. Some have suffered bereavement themselves and want to be able to support others through the grieving process, while those like June merely want to help.

The ending of a close relationship, particularly through death, is the most painful and distressing time that most of us experience. To help and support others through that experience is, to me, an immensely worthwhile cause, says June.

There is no 'normal' or 'right' way to grieve and while some of the people who seek out the support of Shropshire Cruse feel ready to move on after five or six meetings with a counsellor, there are others for whom it takes a lot longer.

One lady had lost her mother nine years before but would not speak to her husband or father or anyone in the family about it. She was worried what shed say before our first meeting but didnt stop talking for an hour. Id see each week how shed taken the actions wed discussed the week before and she told me Id really helped her and her family life, so its very rewarding when you see someone moving on.

The volunteers have on-going training and supervision throughout the year and to initially qualify as a counsellor, must complete an
eight-week course and 100 hours of counselling. They are all very dedicated people because they have to be, especially as you work on your own, says June.

As the nominated bereavement counselling charity providing services to families of Armed Forces personnel, June has also counselled those who have lost loved ones while serving on duty overseas. In these situations they dont just lose a partner but a whole extended family and lifestyle because they are living on the base, so their lives are changed dramatically straight away. I was taught a big lesson with that. As counsellors we are learning things all of the time.

Shropshire Cruse receives some funding through the Shropshire and Telford Primary Care Trusts but relies on donations from individuals or companies and is always open to new volunteers. The branch received more than 1,500 calls last year, and while not allrequire counselling the growing volume of enquiries indicates how they are providing an invaluable service to many people in the county.

Bereaved people face a challenging, often desperate journey, but it is one that they never need to face alone thanks to each and every one of our Cruse volunteers, adds June.

To sum up what Cruse means to me Ill repeat the words of our President at a recent AGM because what she said is what I feel Shropshire Cruse is all about:

Cruse is many things, a kind voice on the phone, a reassuring email, an answer to a question (or prayer), a person who cares, a light in the dark, a guide through grief, a help in need. Cruse is not an anaesthetic, it cant take away the pain of grief, though it may make it more bearable; it is not a crutch, though it may help people to stand on their own two feet; nor can it provide protection from all the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, though it may help us to bear them.

For those interested in joining the team as a volunteer, or to make a donation, contact Shropshire Cruse, Roy Fletcher Centre, 12-17 Cross Hill, Shrewsbury. Tel: 0845 6066812. Shropshire Cruse is currently seeking a volunteer administrator.
Anyone interested please contact the Chair, June Middleton,
tel: 01691 655216.

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