CODE OF ETHICS AND GUIDELINES FOR
BETHANY BEREAVEMENT SUPPORT GROUPS
The aim of the Bethany Bereavement Support Group is to provide compassionate
presence and non-directive listening to bereaved adults.
Providers of Service
Only members who have completed the prescribed Bethany Bereavement
Support programme of workshops and who have received a certificate
of competence from Bethany may offer support to bereaved adults
on behalf of the organisation.
Bethany volunteers provide Levels 1 and 2 Support Service which
is helpful to those experiencing moderate reaction to their grief.
Level 1 is very often provided by family and friends.
• Telephone Support
• Group Meetings
• One-to-one Support within a drop-in centre
• Home visitation when requested *
• Assisting at Remembrance Services
• Annual weekend retreat facilitated by Bethany volunteers
(It is recommended that bereaved persons should be at least 12 months
after their time of bereavement before attending the weekend retreat).
*To comply with Child/Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy, two members
must make house visits.
Support Sessions with the Bereaved
1. 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 every meeting.
2. 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.
3. The bereaved person should be made aware that Bethany is a support
service and not a counselling service.
4. Volunteers must respect the beliefs and values of the bereaved
person and be sensitive to their vulnerability.
5. Boundaries must be established with the bereaved person in regard
to the supporting role and to the location and length of time spent
with them. About one hour is considered appropriate in most cases
in a private and quiet setting.
6. Volunteers should not invite bereaved people they are supporting
to their home.
7. A commitment is necessary by the support volunteer to provide
sustainable, consistent and continuing support for the bereaved person
for as long as is necessary.
8. Volunteers must never accept donations for their service, nor
engage in a different professional capacity with the bereaved person.
9. Should a person present with complicated grief – which
is considered beyond the competence of Bethany volunteers – a
referral should be made to the bereaved person's General Practitioner
or other professional as deemed appropriate.
10. All matters of a Data Protection nature must be complied with.
11. Where there is a conflict of interest, that is, where a bereaved
person may be well known to the volunteer in any capacity, it is
recommended that the bereaved person be referred to another volunteer
unless it is the choice of the bereaved person to proceed.
Child/Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy
Members must comply with Child/Vulnerable Adult Protection Policies
and undertake training in their own community/parish setting.
Setting Up and Continuing Bethany Support Services
Each new Bethany Group is required to select a Chairperson, Secretary
and Treasurer. These roles are to rotate on a three-yearly basis.
All active Group Members will attend a monthly meeting to address
Official business meetings are used for mentoring/support of support
team and to discuss any difficulties that may have arisen in the
previous month regarding on-going support of bereaved callers.
To formalise the monthly meeting an Agenda should be set and Minutes
taken that will be read at the following meeting.
If suited to the group members, a separate drop in
facility for the bereaved can be arranged following the business
meeting – morning
or evening – provided a designated time is allocated for the
bereaved to receive support.
Public Liability insurance is required where meetings are held. It
is the group's responsibility to ensure the premises they use has
the appropriate insurance.
Finance and Grant Applications
Each Bethany Group must open a bank account in the name of Bethany
Bereavement Support Group and the name of the location of the group.
The mandate for operating the account is to have two approved signatures.
It is mandatory to return a copy of your end of year accounts to
the General Executive Council (GEC) of Bethany at each year end
to facilitate their accurate account to funders of our financial
Where a grant is applicable, full financial and all other details
requested by the funding agency must be submitted as directed.
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 documents can be obtained from
the GEC. Funding from Tusla may be used for workshops, residential
weekends for the bereaved, expenses, rent, phone, printing, stationary,
travel, books, CDs etc.
The Petrus Report 2007 recommended 60 hours of training as a minimum
for volunteers supporting the bereaved. As the Bethany modules
provide 40 hours, it is important that volunteers undertake additional
workshops and in-service days both in their own locality and as
provided by the GEC throughout the year. It is also essential that
volunteers keep up-to-date and compliant with all new developments,
regulations and standards.
Self Care and Caring for the Carers
Mentoring sessions and opportunities for debriefing and support for
volunteers are essential aspects of bereavement support work and
self care. Sometimes a support worker who has been bereaved can
be re-traumatised while listening to another bereaved person. Debriefing
is important in these situations.
When a volunteer has a recent bereavement or is suffering from serious
health issues, it is compulsory to take time out to deal sufficiently
with one's immediate situation. This is in the interests of the bereavement
support worker and the bereaved person attending for bereavement
Self Care is not an indulgence but essential to prevent distress,
burnout and impairment in the delivery of our service to the bereaved.
All Bethany volunteers must be Garda vetted through the local community
in which they are providing Bethany bereavement support.
General Executive Council
• The General Executive Council (GEC) is the governing body that supports
and directs all Bethany Bereavement Support Groups.
• The number of GEC Members shall not be less than 3 and not more than
• Officers on the GEC can only hold their position for three years.
• GEC members shall retire from the Board after a max of nine years
• Members of the Executive are available to advise and support individual
Bethany Groups and individual Bethany Support volunteers.
It is also important for groups to
1. Attend Annual General Meeting, Day of Reflection and In-service
2. Send completed Annual Report Form including annual accounts and
register of active members to the GEC within the requested timeframe.
3. 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 for our volunteers
Contact Information for Reporting Matters relating to Child Abuse
and Vulnerable Adult Abuse
See website of National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic
Church in Ireland
• www.safeguarding.ie for all diocesan contact
Other Contact Information
HSE – Tusla Child and Family Agency – www.Tusla.ie for
local social worker contact details.
An Garda Siochana – Local Number
Towards Healing Child Protection – Direct line - 085-8801643
The following documents are available to download:
Department of Health & Children's National Guidelines for the
Protection and Welfare of Children – Children First
• Children First Act 2015
In Northern Ireland
PSNI – 08456008000
Services (Regional Emergency Out of Hours) – 028
Helpline – 0808 800 5000
NI – 028 90326803 (Belfast)– email
Healing Freephone (Northern Ireland & UK):
(Please note that some Mobile Networks may charge for mobile calls
to the freephone but Landline calls are free of charge)
Bethany Bereavement Support Group
General Executive Council
c/o Rathfarnham Parish Centre
Phone: 087 9905299
Ireland -755 788 2183
Registered Charity No. 20036829
CHY No. 12519