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Hospiscare Appeal: Offering a ‘listening ear’ for bereaved families

09:15 10 April 2014

Bereavement co-ordinator Yvonne Howard and volunteer Liz Philpott.

Bereavement co-ordinator Yvonne Howard and volunteer Liz Philpott.


Hospiscare volunteers offer bereavement support to the families of patients who have died within Exeter, Mid and East Devon.

Approximately 60 bereaved people each month are supported by Hospiscare volunteers, with regular phone calls or visits.

Bereavement coordinator Yvonne Howard, who has worked at Hospiscare for over 21 years, manages the team of more than 30 volunteers. Yvonne explains that the volunteers offer supportive listening, that they are not trained counsellors. She said: “What we offer is a listening ear, we are non judgmental, offering emotional support and the chance to have a one-to-one conversation or ongoing telephone contact.’’

Yvonne has found that bereaved people sometimes find it hard to share how they are feeling with their families as they do not wish to burden them, for they are grieving too. She added: “Some bereaved people will find it hard to cope for many months after the death of their partner, or family member. Younger members of the family have to return to work or to their homes if living away, picking up their normal daily routines. The Bereavement Team offers ongoing support alongside the family, giving those people who have been bereaved a chance to talk about their grief without distressing or worrying family members.”

Volunteers who are interested in becoming part of the Bereavement Team have to do a four-day training course and are then interviewed; they need to be committed to the role and the ongoing education programme that they are expected to attend. Volunteers have ongoing team supervision on a monthly basis but are also able to access one-to-one supervision if needed. Alongside bereavement support Hospiscare also offers a place to meet outside the hospice for those who wish to dip their toe into a more social gathering within a safe environment.

Hospiscare is currently fundraising to build and run a new day centre in Honiton for patients and their families living in East Devon which is due to open by summer 2014. The new day hospice will offer complementary therapies to patients and families, an assisted bathroom for those no longer able to bathe at home, nutritious meals and a beautiful garden. The centre will be multi-functional providing an efficient base for nurses and rooms that can be used by volunteers for meetings and for hosting educational sessions. Yvonne hopes the new Hospiscare day centre in East Devon will offer more opportunities for bereavement support including an East Devon drop-in tea. Yvonne said: “Drop- in teas allow bereaved people to talk to others in a similar situation and know its OK to feel the way that they do.

“The bereavement team offers support which encourages the bereaved to move on with their lives. Our aim is to empower them to do so.”

Hospiscare needs to raise £250k to complete, equip and run the new day Hospice in Honiton. For more information about the services offered in the new day hospice or to get involved with fundraising activities, please call appeal fundraiser Sarah Smith on 01392 688063 or email

The Midweek Herald, Exmouth Journal, Sidmouth Herald and Cranbrook Herald have joined forces with Hospiscare to support the East Devon Day Hospice Appeal.

Forthcoming Events:

East Devon Bridge Club will be hosting a bridge event in West Hill on May 10, 1.15pm for 1.30pm start. It costs £10 per person.

Seaton and District Lions Club will be holding a concert performed by Exmouth Town Concert Band at Seaton Town Hall on Saturday, May 3, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £6 and are available from the town hall box office by calling 01297 625699.

Let us know if you are holding any events to raise money for the appeal by calling reporter Katy Griffin on 01392 888485 or email


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