Appeal to help save bereavement service before it shuts down on Christmas Eve
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill has intervened in an effort to save a 'vital' service for the bereaved which is set to close by Christmas due to lack of funding.
Mr Hill has written to health chiefs at Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to try to get a bridging payment to help Hartlepool Bereavement Service survive over Christmas at least.
As previously reported by the Mail, the service in Park Road is getting ready to close its doors for good on Christmas Eve after all efforts to secure funding to meet its running costs proved unsuccessful.
Mr Hill said: “After supporting almost 2,000 people in the eight years of their existence, the service have proved to be a vital lifeline and support for the bereaved.
“Bereavement is a very private matter by its very nature, but it really is the case that those who unfortunately experience it more than often do need support and help, and the bereavement service offers that.
“In fact, demands for the service are increasing.
“As many people have been passported to the service by the local clinical commissioning group, the NHS, I have written to them to request a bridging payment to help get the charity over the Christmas period at least, but I do appeal to local businesses particularly funeral firms to pitch in to help support this important service.
“It would also be great if the banks and other local businesses could help out.”
Mr Hill added: “I lost my Dad in February this year and I know that grief can strike an individual in many ways, so I know just how important this service is to those who have lost their loved ones.
“I pay homage to June Markwell and the team for keeping the service going despite all the uncertainties and sincerely hope my call for support from the CCG and now others helps the service to survive.”
Bereavement service manager Linda Parker thanked Mr Hill for his efforts, but said the situation is still looking desperate.
“The MP and his staff have been very sympathetic and very supportive to ourselves in trying to appeal to the clinical commissioning group and others to try to help us get some funding at least over Christmas,” she said.
“We appreciate the support, but it is not looking good at the moment.”
Chair of trustees, Edgar Coulson also thanked Greig Cavey Commercial for offering a number of weeks free rent on their Park Road premises.
But he added: “To carry on we do need quite a big cash injection. No one appears to want to do that.”
The bereavement service has previously cut its hours, staff levels and used its reserves to stay open.