The aim of the Bethany Bereavement Support Group is to provide compassionate presence and non-directive listening to the bereaved.

Providers of Service
Only members who have completed the twelve week workshop and received a certificate of competence may minister to the bereaved in their community and parish groups.
Bethany provides a Level 2 Support Service which is helpful to those experiencing ‘moderate reaction’ to their grief. Level 1 is provided by family and friends.

Services Provided
1. Group meetings in a drop-in centre monthly, fortnightly or as the need arises.
2. Service to individuals in drop in centre.*
3. Home visitation to recently bereaved of the community and parish.**
4. Telephone support to the bereaved.
5. Organising or assisting at the Liturgy of Remembrance and other events to
support the bereaved e.g. talks, seminars, prayer evenings for the bereaved, workshops etc.
6. Funeral ministry for those volunteers who have also completed Funeral Ministry
Training. While Funeral Ministry is a separate ministry there are parishes where Bethany members also provide funeral ministry.
7. Weekend retreats for bereaved persons facilitated by Bethany volunteers. It is recommended that the bereaved person should be a least 12 months on in their bereavement before attending this weekend.
*Where one to one contact is required it must take place in a community and parish centre where community and parish personnel are present on the premises.
** To comply with Child/Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy relating to children and vulnerable adults two members must make initial house visits and where it is appropriate and deemed safe from Child/Vulnerable Adult Protection perspective one person may make a repeat visit subject to informing the Group Leader.

Dealing with the Bereaved
a) All information provided by or about the bereaved person must be treated as strictly confidential unless clear danger exists for themselves or others e.g. suicide, homicide or of a Child Protection/Vulnerable Adult nature. This must be outlined at the beginning of any meeting.
b) Where matters of Child Protection arise they should be referred to the Designated Reporting Officer of the Diocese, HSE or Garda Siochana and in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Social Services or the PSNI.
c) The bereaved person should be made aware that the service is a support service and not a counselling service.
d) Volunteers must respect the beliefs and values of the bereaved person.
e) Boundaries must be established with the bereaved in regard to the length of time spent with them. About one hour is considered normal.
f) A commitment should be made to provide sustainable, consistent and continuing services for the person bereaved as long as necessary.
g) Volunteers should not invite clients to their home.
h) Volunteers need to be sensitive to the vulnerability of the bereaved and endeavour to leave them in a positive state. Should the client become more vulnerable during a visit it is important for the volunteer to give as much reassurance as possible so that composure is restored.
i) Volunteers must never accept donations for their service.
j) Should a person present with complicated grief which is considered Level 3 and beyond our competence they should be recommended to avail of counselling or the support of Mental Health services. It is important to recognise such cases are outside our boundaries and referral is necessary. The individual should be recommended to refer to their General Practitioner for advice. The boundaries are not exact and may sometimes overlap.
k) All matters of a Data Protection nature must be complied with.
l) Where there is a ‘conflict of interest ‘ that is, where a bereaved person may be well known to the volunteer it is recommended that the person be referred to another volunteer or it may also be a matter of choice of the bereaved person to proceed.

Child/Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy
All members must comply will all policies outlined with regard to Child/Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy and undergo training re Child/Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy within their own diocese.

Setting up & Continuing Parish Groups
Each parish to elect a Leader/Chairperson, Secretary & Treasurer. These roles are to rotate every three years.
Monthly meetings to be held for official business where all active members will attend.
Where necessary a drop in facility for the bereaved can be held on the same day/night as the official business meeting but a separate time must be made available for the bereaved.
To formalise the monthly meeting an Agenda should be set and Minutes taken that will be read at the next monthly meeting.
Official business meetings are to be used for supervision to discuss any difficulties that may have arisen in the previous month regarding ongoing support of the bereaved person and if this can still be delivered to the benefit of the bereaved person or if that person needs to be referred to more professional care.

Public liability insurance is required where meetings are held. This is generally covered once meetings are held on parish premises. Where meetings, workshop or events are held outside parish premises groups must insure that public liability insurance is in place. If not a separate policy may need to be taken out.

Finance & Grant Applications
A grant is presently made available from the Family & Community Support Services and must be applied for on a annual basis using the appropriate form issued by the Agency. Established groups will automatically receive this Form but if they have not being applying for it annually they may have to contact the Agency for the Form or download it from the web.
In recent years this grant has not been made available to new groups. However this may soon be re-instated and all groups should insure they make application for grant on an annual basis.
Where a grant is applicable full financial details must be submitted to the Family Support & Community Support Services as per their requirements set out on the Grant Application Form.
Each parish group must open a bank account. The bank account to be opened in the name of Bethany Bereavement Support Group/ .......Parish. The mandate for operating the account is to have two signatures.
Bethany has Charity Status and Tax Exemption. Bank fees will be reduced where the Charity Status Form is exhibited together with the Constitution for Bethany. These can be obtained from the GEC. Funding may be used for workshops & residential weekends for the bereaved, expenses, rent, phone, printing, stationary, travel, books, CD etc.

On-going Development
The Petrus Report 2007 recommended 60 hours of training as minimum for volunteers supporting the bereaved. This may be spread possibly over a three year period. As basic workshop provides approximately 30 hours it is important that continuing personal development is undertaken by all members. Workshops on facilitating groups is an important element of personal development. Also keeping up to date with compliance and standards is essential.
The GEC provides various workshops throughout the year and attendance at these is highly recommended.
Guest speakers can be invited from the Diocese, Health Services Executive and Irish Hospice Foundation to support development and keep members up to date on compliance and bereavement support.

Self Care and Caring for the Carers
Debriefing and supervision are important aspects of bereavement support work. Sometimes a volunteer who has been bereaved may be re-traumatised while dealing with another bereaved person. Debriefing is important in these situations. Meeting clients in pairs will support debriefing. Supervision should be provided by a more experienced volunteer.
Where a volunteer has a recent bereavement it is compulsory to take time out to deal sufficiently with one’s immediate bereavement.
Self- care is not an indulgence but essential to prevent distress, burnout and impairment.

Garda Vetting
All Volunteers must be Garda Vetted through the local parish in which they are providing ministry.

General Executive Council
The General Executive Council is the governing body that supports and directs all Bethany Bereavement Support Groups. Members of the executive are always available to advise and support individual community and parish groups. Officers on the GEC can only hold their position for 3 years and all members of Bethany are encouraged to consider giving time on the GEC to support all the tasks of administration and development of Bethany members. It is also important for all community and parish groups to::
a. Attend Annual General Meeting.
b. Attend Day of Reflection and other events organised by GEC.
c. Complete annually: Community and Parish Report Form and Register of Active Members.
d. Provide feedback and recommendations to the GEC in order to contribute to our ultimate aim of providing a compassionate and caring service to the bereaved and support of volunteers.

Contact information for reporting matters relating to
Child Abuse/Vulnerable Adult abuse

See website of National Board of Catholic Church in Ireland
for all diocesan contact details.

Other contact information
HSE - Tulsa Child & Family Agency - for local Social Worker contact details
An Garda Siochana
Towards Healing Child Protection - 085 8801643
The following documents are available for download

In Northern Ireland
PSNI - 0845 600 8000
Social Services (Regional Emergency Out of hours) - 028 9504 9999
NSPCC Helpline - 0808 800 5000
NEXUS Institute - 028 90326803 -
Towards Healing Freephone (UK): 0800 096 3315
(Please note that some Mobile Networks may charge for this but Landline calls are free of charge)