An emergency service helping people to cope with grief, trauma, isolation and loneliness during the pandemic is being extended thanks to bereaved families in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) has donated £10,000 to the Dove Service – the only grief support charity in North Staffordshire – after Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council nominated it as its chosen beneficiary for funds raised from the ICCM’s metal recycling scheme.

The ICCM runs a scheme for its members, based on one initiated by the Dutch Cremation Federation, where metals remaining following cremation are recycled with the express consent of the families involved.

It’s operated on a non-commercial, open accounting basis, with all surplus monies shared among selected charities.

The Dove Service, based at the Dudson Centre in Hanley, provides counselling and support to people from the age of four who are experiencing issues relating to bereavement, loss and life-changing illness.

It’s seeing a dramatic increase in the number of referrals and people struggling as a direct result of the pandemic. The money is being used to run two weekly online support groups as well as funding extra counselling capacity which is currently being delivered online or by telephone by trained professionals.

Charlie O’Dell, Dove Service CEO, said: “We’re honoured to have been given this generous contribution to the service that we’re delivering to support people impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and we can only thank the families who have enabled this work. We’re pleased to be able to use this money to deliver a free service that allows us to help our local community at a time when grief and loss are having such a broad and severe impact on so many lives.”

A “Dove buddies” friendship group was set up at Keele Cemetery to further support bereaved residents prior to the pandemic and the charity looks forward to being able to start that again in the future.

Councillor Trevor Johnson, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council Cabinet member for environment and recycling, is the portfolio holder for bereavement services. Cllr. Johnson said: “We’re really pleased that the ICCM has accepted our nomination and donated a significant amount of money to such a worthwhile local cause in these very tough times. This has been made possible by the many bereaved families who have decided to allow metals remaining following cremation to be recycled in this way. It’s a very personal decision and we are there to help residents make an informed decision.

“The charity is absolutely thrilled as it will allow them to continue meeting the additional demand for their specialised services during the pandemic. I hope that this provides residents who have lost a loved one with some level of comfort that their selfless actions are helping to make a big difference locally in these unprecedented times.”

Reusing metal, which would otherwise never break down, is also environmentally friendly as it preserves non-renewable resources. The ICCM, founded in 1913, provides policy and best practice guidance to burial and cremation authorities in the UK as well as representing them at Government level.

(Main image pictured (left to right) are Kay Hollingworth, the Council’s Bereavement Services Registrar, and Charlie O’Dell, Dove Service CEO, in the monthly gardens of remembrance at Bradwell Crematorium.)

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