New lifeline for grieving families

Retired lay minister Caroline Thompson, who is helping Cruse expand its bereavement counselling serv

Retired lay minister Caroline Thompson, who is helping Cruse expand its bereavement counselling services in West Norfolk and the Fens Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

Grieving families could soon have a lifeline in west Norfolk.

Cruse Bereavement Care Norwich and Central Norfolk is setting up a branch based in King’s Lynn.

It is now recruiting volunteers to deliver its services in west Norfolk and the Fens.

Chairman Caroline Thompson said the charity, which currently had no cover in the west of the county, hoped to train up to 30 volunteers.

Ms Thompson, 69, a retired lay minister from Hunstanton, is currently Cruse’s only trained counsellor living west of Fakenham. She said: “The wait to see me is ridiculous.”

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Cruse has no idea how many people might need its services in west Norfolk because it currently has no presence in the area.

“We have high numbers of older people in our area and also high levels of deprivation, both key factors in potential damage to mental health and wellbeing in the context of bereavement,” said Ms Thompson.

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Cruse has now been given funding of £36,000 from the East Coast Community Fund to expand its operations in Norfolk.

The initiative is being supported by the West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, while the King’s Lynn Quakers have offered space in the Friends Meeting House, in Bridge Street.

Ms Thompson has been a bereavement support volunteer (BSV) with Cruse since 2015. One of her clients wrote: “I contacted Cruse in April and had to ring regularly and wait until November to see my BSV who was amazing. My counselling was first class but the delay in seeing someone, because only one person lives near me was very hard. I had to go on to depression medication. I am now reducing my dose and will soon stop. I have been equipped to counsel myself and I feel I have got my sanity back.”

Ms Thompson said current volunteers were of all ages and from all walks of life.

“You have to be a good listener but you can be any age, any gender, any anything really,” she said.

It is hoped the service could be up and running by next year.

To find out more about volunteering, e-mail or call 01603 219977.

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