Newspaper Appeal – Great Success

30 July 2012

Recently the Wigan & Leigh Hospice bereavement service was struggling for volunteers, but an article in The Wigan Observer paper has resulted in a whole new team of volunteers to be recruited and trained.

Julia six

Counsellors Julia Sixsmith and Craig Alkeradded 

Specialist service

A wide range of specialist clinical, medical and psychological services are provided by the Hospice to patients and their loved ones.  A very important part of this care is supporting relatives of Hospice patients who have suffered bereavement.

As well as employing 2 professional counsellors, Wigan & Leigh Hospice has also been supported by trained volunteer members of a bereavement team for some time.  But recently the numbers have dwindled and a plea was made through The Wigan Observer for interested volunteers.

Staggering response

Hospice Counsellor Julia Sixsmith said, "We were staggered at the response: over 20 people contacted us.  As a direct result, we have been able to put 12 people through a special training course.  They were all terrific and are now able to assist the professionals in providing much-needed volunteer support to bereaved family members.

Counsellor Craig Alkeradded, "When people need that support, often other members of the family are also in grief themselves.  It can be helpful if there is someone outside the family they can talk to: to support them through a very difficult period and to let them know that someone cares: to be a listening ear and a source of moral support: in some instances from someone who has been on the same journey.  It is also important that this help is available when it is needed, without having to wait for an undue amount of time.

Not a time-limited service

It is sometimes months, or even years after bereavement that a patient's loved ones find themselves in need of psychological help. The Hospice Bereavement Service is not a time-limited service and it can be very re-assuring, knowing that the Hospice 'team' support is still there for them."

The bereavement service volunteers, supported by the professional Hospice Counsellors, will now provide emotional support to the bereaved during the darkest days of their journey in 'one-to-one' sessions,  either in a loved-one's own home or at the Hospice.

Julia continues, "The ripple effect is that if one of our volunteers can help one family member; that person can then often help and support other members of their family.

Craig adds, "The bereavement volunteers are special people, freely giving their time and talents to those in need of psychological support.  There is no financial reward, only the personal rewards of knowing that they are helping others."

Julia concludes, "We are only able to offer this service to Hospice patients and their families: and we are delighted to be able to continue providing this important aspect of care to them. We are also conscious that other bereavement support services locally are now almost non-existent: as some have moved, or have closed; but unfortunately we are unable to extend our service to them."

Vital role

Volunteers play a massive part in Wigan & Leigh Hospice's success. Around 700 people give us some of their time, helping out with many aspects of running the hospice.

We benefit from around 100,000 'donated hours' every year - it really does help us a lot. The financial benefit of this is very real - it's like a saving of over £700,000 in our annual running costs. 

If you would like to learn more about how you might be able to volunteer, visit  or ring the Hospice Volunteers Co-ordinator on 01942 525566 during office hours.

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