A specialist bereavement support service has been launched in England to help children and families whose parents or close relatives have been killed while on duty with one of the emergency services.
The bereavement support scheme offered by the Joint Emergency Services Charities provides ongoing help to children and young people under the age of 25 and their families through a programme of comprehensive support, including face-to-face sessions with specialist practitioners if needed.
The cost of the first year of operation was met by a welcome donation from the Blue Lamp Foundation, but further set-up costs and the ongoing service is being funded out of an endowment granted to the Joint Emergency Services Bereavement Fund. The £1m endowment was awarded from the Libor fines funding.
The emergency services charities are working in partnership with childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish who have almost 25 years specialist experience of supporting families bereaved in traumatic circumstances.
Under the scheme, specialist bereavement support will be available to the surviving relatives of members of the English ambulance, fire, coastguard, search and rescue, air ambulance, and police services, as well as volunteers under their direct control, who are killed while on duty as a direct consequence of their work.
Bereavement support, which can also be via telephone or e-mail as well as face to face, is available to children and young people who have been affected by a parent’s death, as well as other immediate family including parents, guardians and siblings. Support can be offered even if the death occurred some time ago. Group sessions may also be held involving other bereaved families.
The bereavement fund is managed by TASC, The Ambulance Staff Charity on behalf of all of the participating emergency services charities.
Families or organisations working with bereaved children and young adults can also obtain guidance or bereavement support by calling the Winston’s Wish Freephone Helpline on 08088 020 021 between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Calls are free and confidential. Winston’s Wish can also provide publications suitable to the circumstances.
To find out more about the support available, please visit the dedicated Winston’s Wish webpage www.winstonswish.org.uk/emergencyservices