New service for Lincoln’s homeless helps get to grips with grief

Lincoln’s homeless are to receive one-to-one bereavement support following a successful bid for funding by St Barnabas Hospice Trust.

The Lincolnshire hospice group partnered with YMCA Lincolnshire to bid for a Masonic Charitable Foundation and Hospice UK grant of £19,240 for the city’s first initiative for homeless people who have lost loved ones.  Its aim is to provide one-to-one specialist counselling to work with them through the difficulties, challenges and emotions that can accompany bereavement.

Although there are no exact figures of how many of Lincoln’s homeless are struggling with bereavement, there is research that shows it is a problem on a national scale and there is strong circumstantial evidence that indicates it is prevalent in Lincoln. YMCA and Lincoln Baptist Church independently contacted St Barnabas Hospice to discuss the problem, which lead to the hospice putting together a bid to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for funding.

Freemason Dave Wheeler, Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master of the county’s 3,500 Freemasons, said:

“People can find themselves living on the street for a variety of reasons. Life is already tough enough for the homeless, and the last thing they need is the extra burden of being alone whilst having to cope with the grief of bereavement. The Masonic Foundation’s donation means that counsellors with the right kind of skills can be available to support them at such times, and I find it reassuring that we have made this wonderful initiative possible.”

The sessions are held at the YMCA accommodation on St Rumbold Street and at Nomad emergency homeless accommodation on Monk’s Road. Caroline Killeavy, CEO of YMCA Lincolnshire, added:

“I am delighted that we can work in partnership with St Barnabas on this project. People become homeless for many reasons but one we repeatedly see is bereavement and loss. This Autumn, we will also be opening the doors of our new Nomad Centre on St Rumbolds St, the only specialist facility of its kind in Lincolnshire. We are working with a range of partners who will come together to support the wide range of needs of the homeless in this project; the bereavement sessions provided by St Barnabas will continue in this new 24 hour facility ”

Pete Crosby, Lincoln Baptist Church community coordinator, said:

“Bereavement among the homeless community is a reoccurring issue. In my opinion, without specialist bereavement support these people and people like them, will not overcome their grief and be able to get on with their lives.”

“Homeless people in Lincoln are being offered support with bereavement issues thanks to a ground-breaking service made possible by a donation of almost £20,000 from the county’s Freemasons.”

YMCA Project counsellor St Barnabas bereavement counsellor Cat Rodda, who is leading the year-long project which launched in May, has already seen positive changes in those taking part.

“These sessions provide a confidential and accessible space for homeless people, who traditionally haven’t felt able to access the hospice’s bereavement support. We are already seeing individuals start to work through and better cope with their grief and taking steps to move forward with their lives.”

In addition to the counselling, the project aims to provide bereavement training for staff at partner organisations and for homeless peer mentors in order to widen the impact of the project.

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