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.

Services Provided
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.
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 position.

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.

On-going Development
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 support.

Self Care is not an indulgence but essential to prevent distress, burnout and impairment in the delivery of our service to the bereaved.

Garda Vetting
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 10
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 service
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 Days.
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 for all diocesan contact details.

Other Contact Information
HSE – Tusla Child and Family Agency – 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
Social Services (Regional Emergency Out of Hours) – 028 9504 9999
NSPCC Helpline – 0808 800 5000
Nexus NI – 028 90326803 (Belfast)– email
Towards Healing Freephone (Northern Ireland & UK): 0800 0963315
(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
Willbrook Road
Dublin 14
Phone: 087 9905299

Northern Ireland -755 788 2183

Registered Charity No. 20036829
CHY No. 12519