A CHARITY that helps people deal with bereavement has received a much-needed financial boost from the Government.

Cruse Bereavement Care, which has five branches across the North-East and North Yorkshire, has received £252, 635 from the Department of Health and Social Care to help it respond to an increase in demand for its services due to the pandemic.

The funding has enabled Cruse to provide additional support through its existing National Helpline to bereaved people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding has also allowed the charity to develop its existing infrastructure, including increasing the existing Helpline team, extending the opening hours of its Helpline and creating a new webchat service.

Since the pandemic began, the Cruse branch covering York and North Yorkshire has seen an increase in need for its services, with 70 calls and emails being handled from May to July.

And the average call time to the National Helpline has increased to 18 minutes in the last three months.

Sue Gill, bereavement volunteer and representative for York and North Yorkshire at Cruse Bereavement Care said: “These are unique times for everyone and we are yet to see the full impact that the pandemic is having on the thousands of people across the UK who have been bereaved and the lasting impact this will have on their mental health.

"We know from experience how devastating any death can be but in the current circumstances people are facing some of the most challenging situations imaginable.

“The social distancing restrictions and limitations on funerals since March has meant that many of those left behind have been grieving in isolation, alone, unable to seek much needed comfort from friends and family, and on top of that – many will have been unable to say goodbye or attend the funeral.

"What we are seeing now with an increase in support given by our regional branches month on month, is that these people have just put their grief on hold but now is when this grief is starting to be realised.

“Our team here in York and North Yorkshire is proud to be part of the national support network and pleased to be able to extend our National Helpline services to support those affected by this awful virus.

"In addition, our team of bereavement volunteers has also been supporting non Covid-19 related deaths so it really has been all hands-on deck to ensure that those who need it can access the necessary guidance and advice on dealing with grief and death.

"If you or anyone you know has suffered a bereavement, we urge you to get in touch with our Helpline for support as having someone to talk to can make all the difference.”

The training of the new volunteers has also allowed the charity to prepare if there is a second wave of the virus and the subsequent uptake in demand for its services.