Portsmouth conference strengthens bereavement support network

A one day conference in Portsmouth addressing the sensitive subject of loss and bereavement brought together 200 professional and volunteer practitioners keen to share expertise and develop a strong network of support.

Organised jointly by The Bereavement Centre and Solent NHS and supported by The Southern Co-operative Funeralcare, the day (29 October) focused on the many aspects of bereavement and loss, and highlighted the help available to both practitioners and individuals.

Image of donation being received

Photo: Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Frank Jonas with The Bereavement Centre Manager, Ingrid McAllister-Derry (right) and Solent NHS Loss and Bereavement Nurse for Portsmouth CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services), Sarah Tollast. Pictured in the garden of reflection area, created by The Southern Co-operative florist based at Lakeside in Portsmouth.
The conference was organised as a not for profit event, with £500 proceeds from the day donated by The Southern Co-operative Funeralcare to the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth’s Charity Appeal.

After meeting exhibitors, which included the Alzheimer’s Society, Carers Centre, Off the Record, Grave Talk, Cruse, Victim Support, The Rowans Hospice, The Southern Co-operative Funeralcare, Age UK, The Bereavement Centre, NHS Mental Health team, Community Police, Macmillan Cancer Support and more, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Frank Jonas opened the day. He said: “This conference covers many facets in addressing the important and difficult subject of loss, and provides a great opportunity to network and gain more information on different organisations within Portsmouth and surrounding areas. Professionals, practitioners and voluntary agencies do so much work in this area; this is an excellent way to bring them together and share expertise and knowledge. As we all get older, bereavement is something we’re more likely to experience, and on a personal note, I have friends and family who have used some of the services represented here, which has given them invaluable support.”

Speakers and workshops throughout the day focused on giving a greater understanding of the many causes of grief and an insight into the help available. Topics included the Samaritans’ 24/7 listening service, understanding dementia, supporting children going through loss and bereavement, identifying trauma such as PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) associated with grief, the role of the funeral director and welfare provision in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. With consideration that these discussions affect people in different ways, The Southern Co-operative floristry team created a garden of reflection area within the venue, to provide a place to take time out and reflect.

Held at Portsmouth Academy for Girls and organised as a not for profit conference to enable as many practitioners to attend as possible, this is the fourth year that it has run, with an increasing number of attendees each year. Proceeds from the day, totalling £500, were donated to the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth’s Charity Appeal.