City bereavement group is in crisis

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A LYNCH-PIN city charity that helps hundreds of people survive after the death of a loved one is being forced to close – over a paltry £7,000.

This is the amount the council grants every 12 months to the 31-year-old Milton Keynes Bereavement Service.

Entirely run by volunteers, the charity uses the cash to provide counselling and support for up to 400 grief-stricken people every year.

Those in need range from small children who have lost a parent to pensioners who have lost a spouse of decades.

And the service’s work is so well regarded that many of its referrals come from GPs all over the city.

Now, as part of its round of budget cuts, Milton Keynes Council is cutting the grant completely.

“It is only a small amount in terms of the council budget, but it is an enormous sum to us,” said spokesman Elizabeth Jones.

“We could try to raise it with endless jumble sales and whist drives. But that would mean our volunteers simply would not have time to do the job they are there to do – help bereaved people.”

The charity already raises £6,000 a year towards its modest £13,000 running costs.

These costs include rent at their shared city counselling centre offices, where drop-in sessions are held three times a week and one-to-one support offered by appointment.

Volunteers, all of whom have been bereaved themselves, also make home visits if necessary.

Now the bereavement service is appealing for the public to help in urging the council to change its mind before funding ceases in March 2012.

It has produced a letter on its website and is asking anyone willing, particularly former clients, to sign it and send it to the council.

The website can be viewed on www.bereavementservicemk.org.uk.