Stoke-on-Trent based bereavement charity changes how it operates to continue support

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A Stoke-on-Trent based charity is still helping people affected by grief and bereavement, but its changing how it works to offer support.

The Dove Service, based in the Dudson Centre, normally offers face-to-face counselling services, as well as bereavement support drop-in groups and Dove Buddies friendship groups.

But as it has had to close its doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, it has had to change how it operates.

Chief Executive Charlie O'Dell admits it has been a challenge.

She said: "If anybody contacts our organisation they would be offered telephone support.

"At the moment we are looking at whether or not we can perhaps more long term introduce online counselling, which would be face-to-face.

"We are looking at if we can bring that in as well.

"We have always worked with children from the age of 4, which hasn't changed at all, but telephone counselling with a 4-year-old just isn't appropriate.

"We have started to pull together some information, support and guidance for parents and carers that can go out by email, so they can themselves start to support younger children.

"I think I can speak for my colleagues in other voluntary sector organisation, particularly locally, that we have realised now how flexible and adaptable we are, and how fast we can change to be able to provide the support we want to give to those who need us the most."

Those who have lost a friend or family member in recent weeks may have been unable to attend their funeral due to current restrictions, which the Dove Service says could have a long term affect.

Charlie said: "Crematoriums have been adapting and doing webcasts, but it is certainly not the same as being there and being able to grieve with family and friends.

"There is probably going to be a long term implication for the way that we have all had to grieve during the lockdown, that once people do start to return to any sort of freedom there are still going to be ripples.

"We know for our service that right now people are simply functioning and getting through what is a completely unprecedented situation, and we will probably see more of an impact of the grief and the bereavement 12 or 18 months down the line."

As part of Dying Matters Week, the charity is also encouraging people to commit to having a conversation about death, dying or grief.

They say while they are difficult conversations to have, sharing our wishes about whether we want to be buried or cremated, how we feel about organ donation, and whether we want to be resuscitated, may help reduce anxiety for family members.

For more information, call 01782 683155 (Mon-Fri office hours).

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