PROFILE: Calderdale Help in Bereavement Service

We’re grateful to Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees for this interesting and helpful insight into the Calderdale Help in Bereavement Service (Chibs).

lyn-law-picLynn Law is a volunteer with Calderdale Help in Bereavement Service (Chibs) and a strong and inspiring woman.  Lynn helps people at the lowest time in their lives when they are struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one.

She supports people through their grief, helping them to understand and better cope with the challenges of being bereaved; providing non-judgemental, listening support.

“It can be difficult but it’s very rewarding knowing that you have helped someone through their darkest times” says Lynn. “I’ve had clients who have cried through our entire first meeting but a little way down the line we’ll be discussing what happened on Coronation Street! It gives you a real sense of achievement to know you’ve made a difference”.

Lynn has been volunteering for Chibs for just over a year. She is retired and was looking for something rewarding to do to fill her time and came across Chibs. Lynn has suffered a terrible period of bereavement herself; her daughter died in her 20’s, leaving behind a baby daughter and shortly after this her own mother also died. It was an extremely difficult time, but Lynn felt that she had really benefitted from support. As time moved on, she looked to the possibility of being able to help others going through the challenges of loss and bereavement. She now is a very valuable member of Chibs team of volunteers.

Following training she adds “You do have to be quite a strong and stable person, as the last thing a grieving person needs is someone else in floods of tears”.

Clients are often referred to Chibs by their doctor or other agencies, such as Age UK, or people may get in contact themselves; they are then matched with a suitable volunteer. The first meeting is a chance to get to know each other and for the befriender to assess the client’s stage of grief and how they are coping. People are usually seen on a one to one basis in their own homes. The service is free of charge and confidential.

“People often deny grief and try to go on as normal. They don’t want to feel they are ‘putting on’ their friends and family, so being seen by a Chib’s volunteer allows for space and time to be themselves” explains Lynn “Sometimes it just takes someone who isn’t involved to tell them that it’s

alright to cry and alright to share their feelings and that it’s OK for them to do things in their own way – not in the way everyone else wants”.

Befrienders will listen to clients reminisce, or discuss their thoughts of the funeral service, their feelings of grief and their changed lives. Chibs can signpost to other useful organisations for additional support or, when the time is right, encourage them to get out and about. Older people especially can become socially isolated after a partner’s death.

Chibs will support clients for up to six weeks but if clients feel they need longer, their befriender will continue supporting. They also run a monthly support meeting for clients who prefer a group setting, following an initial assessment .

Volunteers have all experienced bereavement themselves so they can empathise with their clients. They are DBS checked and thoroughly trained by qualified counsellors to support those who have been bereaved in any way, including suicide, murder or still birth. Volunteers receive safeguarding training for both adults and children. Chibs support their volunteers by phone supervision and also through monthly meetings to share experiences and suggestions.

Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees are working in partnership with Chibs to help them provide their valuable service to older people in Calderdale who are suffering bereavement.

For more information about Calderdale Help in Bereavement Service (Chibs) you can visit their website or call them on 0845 0099 220

For more information about Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees you can visit their website or call them on 01422 252040

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