The Compassionate Friends
The Compassionate Friends (TCF) is a charitable organisation of bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents dedicated to the support and care of other similarly bereaved family members who have suffered the death of a child or children of any age and from any cause. Many parents bereaved by suicide have found help, support and comfort from knowing that others are able to share their unique pain and grief.
We run a national telephone helpline staffed by bereaved parents, which is available 365 days a year. We provide one-to-one and group support including weekend retreats, as well as online support and information.
How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
TCF holds over 80 support groups throughout the UK for parents bereaved of a son or daughter from any cause, including suicide. We also hold specialist groups for those parents bereaved by suicide in London, Bristol, Cambridge and Glasgow. In all the groups, parents meet in a safe space to share in confidence their thoughts and to support each other through their grief. TCF’s Online Community Forum has a specific ‘bereaved by suicide’ section and there is a private Facebook page for parents bereaved by suicide. An annual retreat weekend is held for parents bereaved by suicide. Our sibling support group online includes many bereaved brothers and sisters affected by the suicide of their sibling. We have recently updated our own policy and procedures for TCF volunteers on supporting bereaved parents who express suicidal thoughts or actions.
What are your current priorities?
– Expanding our support for parents and siblings bereaved by suicide, through increasing our support groups around the UK and more specialist retreat weekends.
– Introduction of a ‘grief companion’ scheme whereby we will match newly bereaved parents who have lost their child to suicide to those parents who are further on in their grief for support and friendship.
– Increasing our support for bereaved siblings over 18 years, as there is so little offered to this age group in terms of support.
What challenges are you currently facing?
There are still gaps in bereavement support for parents and bereaved siblings, so recruiting, training and supporting volunteers continues to be a priority for us. Demand for support from bereaved parents and their families currently outstrips supply. It can also be challenging on a limited budget to find ways to spread the word that we offer support and understanding to bereaved parents. Funding is always a constant challenge and we welcome support for our unique peer-to-peer services.