Hartlepool grief charity is facing uncertain future over funding

From left: Hartlepool Bereavement Service  chair Edgar Coulson. manager Linda Parker, advisor Peter Gowland, and board member June Markwell,
From left: Hartlepool Bereavement Service chair Edgar Coulson. manager Linda Parker, advisor Peter Gowland, and board member June Markwell,

Hartlepool Bereavement Service is facing an uncertain future unless it can find vital funding soon.

For eight years, the service based in Park Road, has provided emotional, practical and social support to more than 1,700 people affected by grief.

From left: Hartlepool Bereavement Service board member June Markwell, advisor Peter Gowland, manager Linda Parker and chair Edgar Coulson.

From left: Hartlepool Bereavement Service board member June Markwell, advisor Peter Gowland, manager Linda Parker and chair Edgar Coulson.

But while demand for its services is increasing, bosses say it is becoming harder to raise the £30,000 a year it needs to keep going.

Edgar Coulson, chair of Hartlepool Bereavement Service, said: “We have more clients than ever because we are getting better known all the time, but the problem is even running on a shoestring budget we do need more support than we have at this moment in time.

“At the moment we are struggling for funds and we hope that we will be able to raise enough to go on but we do need extra support, some people to come on board to keep us going.”

Manager Linda Parker said the service is now running at the “absolute minimum” with just two part-time staff and a team of volunteers.

She said: “It’s quite serious to the point we might have funding only up to the end of September.

“We have worked hard to build up a trust with other agencies and a quality service over the last eight years.

“People think what we do is just hand holding, but it’s not. It’s more complex than some people realise.

“We provide long term emotional, practical and social support. I am still helping one man after six years.”

Peter Gowland, who helped Linda establish the service when he worked for Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency, said many organisations are struggling due to less funding for the voluntary sector.

He said: “It’s a really valued organisation and it’s the only one of its kind in Hartlepool.

“We just want to keep the service going because if anything demand is increasing.”

Lottery grants helped to support the service for its first six years, but it has been self-funding for the last two.

As well as emotional support, it runs a social group with 40 members, and provides advocacy to help clients to deal with financial and legal matters.

June Markwell joined the committee after the service helped her after the loss of her husband. She said: “Now it needs our financial support to continue with its invaluable work.”

Anyone who can help is asked to contact Hartlepool Bereavement Service at 41 Park Road or call (01429) 244689.