Bereavement service funding crisis

Linda Parker of the Hartlepool Bereavement Service
Linda Parker of the Hartlepool Bereavement Service

A VALUED organisation that helps people through the loss of a loved one is facing closure after a bid for lottery funding was turned down.

Hartlepool Bereavement Service has just eight weeks to find at least £9,000 in order to keep going.

It is appealing for help from the community in the style of a “secret millionaire” to save it.

Bereavement officer Linda Parker said: “It really is getting quite serious, not just for us but for the whole voluntary sector.

“What we need is a secret millionaire, but there are not many out there.

“If we can’t find the money we would just have to close down basically.

“It has taken over three years to build up the reputation and links with all the different agencies.”

Hartlepool Bereavement Service was set up in 2009 with £160,000 of lottery funding, and has helped around 500 families so far.

It offers a friendly listening ear through home visits and at its base in Park Road.

The service also provides practical support for everything from welfare benefits changes, funeral grants, wills and accommodation.

The service, which is a registered charitable trust, was rejected twice for continued funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

It is currently waiting to hear if bids from other funders will be granted.

“If we get that it would give us two or three months time to play with.

“If we could get someone to come forward to fund projects or be a sponsor it would be a big help,” said Linda.

She expects there to be even more demand for help in 2013 when changes to the welfare system come onto effect.

Linda added: “There are massive problems with families when they go through a bereavement.

“There is a multitude of things and we serve as a one-stop shop to help.

“If we can take the extra stress off then they can start to move on with their lives.

“It just seems a shame for it to go when it is needed in the town.”

Dad-of-five Raymond Steel, 56, who lost his wife Jean to cancer, praised the service for its invaluable support.

He said: “I think it’s a very good service and I wouldn’t want to do without Linda.

“When I have any problems with social security or anything I always go to Linda, and she sorts it straight away.”

Anyone who would like to help Hartlepool Bereavement Service can call (01429) 244689.