Cruse Bereavement Care exists to offer support, advice and information to children, young people and adults when someone dies, and to enhance society’s care of bereaved people.

Cruse Bereavement Care, along with Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland, is the UK’s largest charity dedicated to the provision of free counselling and support to people suffering from grief following the loss of someone close to them. It was established in Richmond upon Thames in 1959, with the Oxford branch opening two years later in 1961.

I first began working for Cruse in October 2011 when I began training as a bereavement volunteer. All volunteers go through a selection process when applying for the Aspects of Bereavement Course (ABC), a ten-week programme including 70 hours of face-to-face training accompanied by an assessed portfolio of work. I began working with clients in January 2012 and used the organization as one of my placements when I began training as a counselling psychologist later that year. In 2014 I undertook a similar assessed course to become a supervisor, and I now run two monthly supervision groups.

Oxford Cruse offers a range of services, including a telephone helpline providing advice and support. Where appropriate, one-to-one support from trained volunteers is offered at Cruse’s offices in New Inn Hall Street or within the client’s own home. When it is not possible to meet face to face, telephone support is offered. We also run friendship groups at Oxford, Abingdon, and Wallingford, as well as a bereavement support group in Abingdon and a specialized group in Oxford for people bereaved by suicide. Finally, Oxford Cruse runs a project for the homeless in Oxford, run through a hostel and a supported housing scheme.

Over 300 people in Oxfordshire were supported by Cruse last year, but more could be done with greater resources. Although in receipt of small grants, we rely on donations and fundraising to cover our expenses. These include the rental of office space and meeting rooms, a part-time administrator, travel costs for home visits, and ongoing training costs to ensure that volunteers continue to develop their knowledge and expertise.

We are very grateful for the support of St Mary’s church towards our costs in the coming year. If you would like to know more about the work of Cruse or would like to become involved in any way, then please get in touch.

Matthew Stiff