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 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.
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,
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
*Where one to one contact is required it must take place in a community and parish
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
f) A commitment should be made to provide sustainable,
consistent and continuing services for the person bereaved as long
g) Volunteers should not invite clients to their
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
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
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
Each parish to elect a Leader/Chairperson, Secretary & Treasurer.
are to rotate every three years.
Monthly meetings to be held for official business where all active members will
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
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.
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
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
All Volunteers must be Garda Vetted through the local parish in which they are
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
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
a. Attend Annual General Meeting.
b. Attend Day of Reflection and other events organised
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 - www.Tulsa.ie for local Social Worker
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 - email@example.com
Towards Healing Freephone (UK): 0800 096 3315
(Please note that some Mobile Networks may charge for this but Landline calls
are free of charge)