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Published 15 January 2021

A new community based bereavement support service has been launched to help West Dunbartonshire residents cope with grief during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lockdown and social distancing measures have limited families from seeing loved ones during end of life care.

Restrictions on funeral attendances have also prevented  the traditional farewell people would normally have and the chance to share time with extended family and friends, leaving many grieving families feeling isolated.

Now West Dunbartonshire Health & Social Care Partnership as a Community Planning West Dunbartonshire partner has joined with local mental health support organisation Stepping Stones to offer additional help to people coping with grief at this time.

Allan MacLeod, Chair of West Dunbartonshire Health & Social Care Partnership, said: “Bereavement is hard for families under normal circumstances but during the current restrictions families are unfortunately  experiencing heightened grief.

“The priority is to help people develop coping strategies and resilience that will improve their general mental health and wellbeing. I hope this new service will reassure residents they are not alone and this service can offer help and support during their grief.

“In some cases people who use the service will require more practical support such as signposting to the appropriate services, like Citizens Advice.”

Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Chair of WDHSCP, said: “I fully support this new service that I hope will help our grieving residents cope with the additional measures during the pandemic.

“Managing loss at this time brings unique additional challenges for many people who feel they didn’t get the chance to say goodbye properly to loved ones.

“For some people this will require more complex ongoing  support, which can be provided by Stepping Stones, who have a long history of helping people in the West Dunbartonshire area. I would urge anyone who has lost a loved one and may be struggling to cope, to get in touch and see how they can benefit from the bereavement support offered by this new service. ”

Anyone aged 18 or over can self-refer by calling Stepping Stones on 0141 9412929, or emailing admin@stepstones.org.uk. They can also be referred by a support agency, carer or GP.

The West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership  is working to support people who are bereaved by providing a range of self-help services at http://www.wdhscp.org.uk/health-improvement/bereavement-support-during-coronavirus-pandemic/