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COVID-19 is posing a big challenge to us all, personally, collectively and professionally. Physical distancing means that many existing services have to be delivered in a different way, and that funding these services may be a challenge. At the same time, we know that more families are likely to be bereaved as a result of COVID-19 so there will be more demand for bereavement support.

As people and organisations working with bereaved people, you have a particular role to play, both during the outbreak and afterwards as people move forwards in their grief. It is important to be as prepared as possible, and to plan ahead to manage some of the impacts we can expect.

Here at the National Bereavement Alliance we will be keeping this page updated every day with information to help bereavement services across the country respond to the current situation.

Current government guidance

For the most up to date guidance, visit the UK Government web page.

Adapting your services

In compliance with current public health guidance, most services are not providing face to face services (1:1 or group support) at the moment.

Alternatives to direct support

  • Make sure you are familiar with national online resources to which you can signpost families.
  • Use your social media accounts to promote key messages of support and updates about your service
  • Be clear about how interactive your social media accounts can be. If you don’t have capacity to respond to messages, say so.
  • Guides to getting started on social media, and to well-being for charity communications staff may be helpful.
  • Make a contingency plan in case staff managing these accounts go off sick.

Working in a different way

  • Take time to think it through – what skills, resources and technology do you have?
  • Don’t overcommit – think through whether your plans would be sustainable if a high proportion of your staff and volunteers were to go off sick.
  • Discuss your plans with your safeguarding lead, data protection officer, insurance company, trustees and funders.
  • The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy has produced useful resources on supporting clients during the coronavirus outbreak including  over the phone or via webcam
  • Online Training have a pre-recorded webinars to help you think through the implications of working online and whether this is something that your service could offer.
  • Don’t feel bad if you decide this is not something for your service at the moment. Your priority at the moment is to make sure that your service provision is safe and sustainable.

Managing your resources

Service managers are faced with many challenges in supporting staff and managing in the face of falling income from training, fundraising events and charity shops. NCVO has produced helpful guidance for charities.

Managing staff

  • For up to date advice about managing staff, ACAS have an updated guidance page and regular webinars
  • The Government guidance will be kept up to date
  • Working Families have produced a useful guide for employees
  • HRNet provides free tailored HR advice for charities in England and Wales.
  • We are expecting more information about how the Coronavirus Job Retention Fund will work for charities

Managing income

  • CAF have launched an emergency small grants fund for small charities whose delivery is affected by COVID-19
  • A collective of grant-making funders have issued a supportive letter setting out their approach to managing grants during the outbreak
  • Contact your funders proactively to let them know about changes to your activities and to discuss any necessary changes to your reporting requirements
  • The Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group have produced helpful guidance for fundraisers

Supporting grieving people during the outbreak

For any bereaved people, the current restrictions on social interaction and non-essential travel mean that they are likely to experience bereavement differently. For those bereaved specifically through COVID-19, there are an extra set of considerations.

There is currently no government guidance preventing funeral services from taking place. However, funerals must comply with current guidance on social distancing and protection of high risk groups, which might mean changes, for example to the way in which they are organised and how many people can attend. Quaker Social Action’s Down to Earth project have produced suggestions about how to organise a meaningful funeral when people can’t attend.

The National Association of Funeral Directors have produced up to date information for people organising funerals. Working with colleagues across the funeral, burial and cremation sector, they have also issued joint guidance on the number of people attending funerals.