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A day in the life of a volunteer Bereavement Counsellor

April 5, 2023

Val Howard has been a volunteer Bereavement Counsellor at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices since 2011. Prior to this role, she has supported and been involved with other teams at the charity since the late 1990s.

“My first volunteering experience with the charity was in 1997 when I began a fundraising group in Wimbledon. When Christopher’s opened, I felt I wanted to help at the hospice and so for many years was part of the housekeeping team. Later, as an already qualified massage therapist, I joined the therapies team and through that helped at pamper days for mothers. During that time, I trained as a counsellor for ChildLine and later became a bereavement counsellor at Christopher’s. As a counsellor I have worked with both parents and grandparents. Sometimes the relationship is only over a few weeks or months, but others have been for up to three years. I see people on a one-to one basis, usually face to face, but during the pandemic it had to be via Zoom or phone calls.

“I have also been involved in memory days, pamper days, siblings’ days and grandparents days. I’ve supported by doing therapeutic craft activities, helping to facilitate group discussions or simply listen when someone has felt a bit overwhelmed. Becoming a volunteer has given me the opportunity to develop and learn new skills through ongoing training and has allowed me the privilege of standing alongside people during incredibly difficult times. Sometimes I am asked how I can do this work, but it is extremely rewarding and with the support of the Family Support Team leaders and the people I have counselled I have learned so much.”

We’re only able to offer this bespoke bereavement support with the generosity of our supporters and volunteers, whether you can donate money or your time, find out how you can make every moment count.

Shine Summer 2023

This article is from the virtual edition of Shine – our supporter magazine. Check out the other articles in the latest edition.
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