FOUR friends are coming to the aid of recently bereaved people in Wigan.
They have formed a group - Hindley and District Bereavement Support - after finding that counselling can be very limited for those who have lost a loved one to cancer.
It now meets at The Church of Christ in Argyle Street on the first Monday of every month between 7pm and 9pm
William Blake, a former IT worker and team leader at the Kelloggs Cornflakes factory in Trafford Park for 35 years who took voluntary retirement in 2009, said the group had arisen as his church’s vicar, Rev John Morgan - who is also a close friend - met a shocked and grieving man who had just lost a loved one at Wigan and Leigh Hospice to cancer.
A volunteer at the hospice for the last five years, he was drawn to becoming involved there because of its positive ethos and his desire to put his time to more productive use after early retirement.
He describes it as a “lovely building with a really good atmosphere too.”
And is currently producing a range of posters that will be put up in doctors surgeries, the hospice and its shops.
It is now a question of letting as many people as they can now know that the support network is there if they ever find they may need it.
Counselling sessions are taken by William and his wife Irene, John and Jeniffer Morgan, plus Jo Ghani, their newest counsellor.
Contact William on 0778 792 1367 or John on 0751 986 8085.
William, 60, said: “Our church’s vicar John met this chap outside the hospice who was totally distraught.
“One of his best friends had just died there and his basically just wanted somebody to talk to about it.
“But because he is not related in any way to the person who had passed away, there was no real support network available to help him.
“There is counselling through your GP available but that can take anything up to three months to arrange, so that was hardly going to help him in his current condition, was it?
“So what we decided to do was to try and bridge the gap by setting up our group on a coffee evening type basis to help people who have lost partners, husbands, wives or just friends.
“It is only small group at the moment but sometimes we can have up to 13 people coming along but it is about having a group in place and up and running should people decide they need it.”
The meetings are informal, but supportive. And completely free.
Once the doors are open, those present have a chat about how they are feeling and about how they are dealing with their loss.
And for those who are doing worse than others, there is a shoulder to lean on or, if the occasion demands, one to cry on, as well.
There is a plentiful supply of tea and coffee and delicious home made cakes made by Vicar’s wife, Jennifer.
William said: “It gives people a chance to discuss their views, how they are feeling and it might well be the first occasion that they have had since the bereavement.
“This can be in the public setting, if you like, of the full bereavement group, or indeed on a one to one basis in private if they are really upset and would prefer that setting on their own if they need it.
“It is satisfying a need we hope that was there but that just wasn’t being catered for.
“There is a long waiting list for bereavement counselling from the NHS but we offer I hope an immediate solution.
“It is wonderful to see people emerge from being distraught, upset and unable to make sence of how they are feeling, to feeling better about themselves, confident and able to get on with their lives, albeit without their loved one.”
l For further details visit www.hindleybereavementsupport.com