In 2024 we will be launching peer-led suicide bereavement support groups in Barrow-in-Furness, Kendal, Penrith, Carlisle, Maryport and Workington.

Our monthly peer-led support group meetings are an opportunity to meet others who have lost someone to suicide in a safe and confidential space. Our groups are a place where you can share your experiences and feelings, and give and gain support from each other. The groups run in various locations across Cumbria at set times every month and are supported by volunteers from Every Life Matters who have personal experience of suicide bereavement.

Penrith – Thursday 28th March 7:00-8:30pm on the 4th Thursday of each month 25/4, 30/5, 27/6, 25/7, 29/8, 26/9, 31/10, 28/11

Carlisle – Tuesday 23rd April 7:00-8:30pm on the 4th Tuesday of every month 28/5, 25/6, 23/7, 27/8, 24/9, 22/10, 26/11

Kendal – Tuesday 16th April 7:00-8:30pm on the 3rd Tuesday of every month 21/5, 18/6, 16/7, 20/8, 17/9, 15/10, 19/11, 17/12

Barrow –  Wednesday 10th April 5:30-7:00pm on the 2nd Wednesday of every month 8/5, 12/6, 10/7, 14/8. 11/9, 9/10, 13/11, 11/12

Maryport and Workington – Starting dates TBC

Locations of our group meetings are private, so if you are wanting to join a group we ask that you contact us prior to the meeting to let us know you want to attend. Please scroll down for contact details.

What are the meetings like?

Peer-led Support group meetings are held in an informal and private space such as a community centre, church hall, GP practice and so on. A volunteer will be there to greet you, introduce you to others if you want, and to answer any questions you may have about the meeting or any other issues relating to suicide bereavement and support.

Our meetings are usually split in to two halves. The first part we all sit together to do introductions, share our experiences and find ideas and support from others. The second half is an opportunity to talk more informally in pairs or smaller groups over a cuppa and cake. There is no obligation to talk or to share. It could simply be an opportunity for you to meet others and be in the company of people who might understand better what you have gone through. What you disclose and who you talk to is your choice.

Each support group is run by a team of volunteer group facilitators. Between them, they facilitate the session, get the conversation started, make sure everyone has the opportunity to talk if they want to, and generally look out for people. Our group facilitators do more listening than talking, and are comfortable listening to the experiences of others. All volunteers are bereaved by suicide themselves, usually for more than 2 years. This shared experience with the people who come to our groups is a really important part of what makes them so effective. People feel that they will be understood.

The first time you attend you can come earlier to meet our facilitators and to settle in before the meeting starts.

If your bereavement has happened recently, in the last 3 months, we recommend speaking to Paul before attending as individual support may be more helpful to you in these early weeks, rather than attending a group.

Our groups are for people bereaved by suicide. But if you felt you need someone to accompany you to a first meeting that’s fine. Just let us know.

And we always have cake!

What are the benefits of attending the groups?

Understanding. People who are grieving because of suicide can feel very alone, experiencing a kind of loss that others may not understand. Even with supportive family and friends, people often find it helpful to talk with others who have experienced a similar loss.

Coping. At these kind of groups people can help one another to come to conclusions that often lead to acceptance and increased hope for facing the future. People might share ideas and techniques that have helped them cope with some of the difficult feelings and other impacts of bereavement by suicide. They might help each other find positive ways to remember their loved ones or to feel they are making a difference through fundraising or campaigning.

Support. People can also attend the groups to find out more about the range of support and services for people bereaved by suicide in Cumbria and Nationally, including help with practical issues, the coroners’ inquests, speaking to children about loss and more. We usually have a range of helpful books and other resources at each group for people to read or to borrow.

How do I join a Group?

Locations of our group meetings private, so if you are wanting to join a group we ask that you contact us prior to the meeting to let us know you want to attend. This first contact can also be an opportunity for you to ask more questions about the group and to talk to one of the volunteer facilitators. Please contact our Support Group Co-ordinator, Paul on 07588 016 166 or email support@every-life-matters.org.uk. You can also fill out the form below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who can attend the groups? Are there any restrictions?

Anyone over the age of 18 can attend one of our support groups.

Anyone bereaved by suicide, and aged 18 or over can attend one of our support groups, whether your bereavement was a few months ago or ten years past, and whether the person you lost was a family member, partner, friend, colleague, neighbour. You can bring along a friend, family member, a colleague or children to accompany you for the first meeting or two. We appreciate that attending a group like this may feel daunting.

Will the people facilitating the group know how I feel? Have they lost someone to suicide as well?

Our volunteers and staff supporting the support groups will have been bereaved by suicide. They also benefit from the mutual support and understanding these groups provide.

Is what I say in the group private?

We ask that anything discussed in the support groups remains confidential to those attending and no personal information is disclosed to others or is not written down during the sessions. However, please note there may be instances where we may have to break confidentiality if we feel you or someone else is in danger.

Can I attend a group on behalf of someone else?

No. Supporting someone bereaved by suicide can be very hard, but attendance of the groups is experiential which means the bereaved person needs to be there to benefit from them. If you want to get support for someone else, please pass this information on to them and encourage them to contact us directly. We understand that sometimes attending such a meeting may be difficult and anxiety provoking so we are happy for you to bring with you someone you trust to the first meeting or two.

Can I bring a friend with me?

Yes. We understand that sometimes attending such a meeting may be difficult and anxiety provoking so we are happy for you to bring with you someone you trust to the first meeting or two.

I and a family member/friend have both been bereaved by suicide. Can we attend the same group?

Yes, this is fine, but please be aware that experience shows us that if friends or family members attend the same support group they might not be able to express themselves fully, for fear of upsetting their friend or loved one. You can discuss what options you may have with our staff or volunteers. For example, we run groups in several areas and it may be that members of the same family want to attend different groups.

Is there anyone I can speak to now to get more support?

If you need to contact someone while you are waiting to join a group, there are people out there for you speak to.

If you are recently bereaved (in the last 9 months) you can contact Every Life Matters suicide bereavement support service via email support@every-life-matters.org.uk or telephone 07588 016 166. You can find out more about what we offer at https://www.every-life-matters.org.uk/affected-by-suicide/

Other options include:

Cruse Bereavement Support National Helpline is open for information, advice and emotional support, from 9.30am to 5pm Monday and Friday and 9.30am to 8pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The number is 0808 808 1677 and is free to call.

Survivors of Bereavement By Suicide (SoBS) have launched an online forum. This is an online community that offers peer-to-peer support for survivors of bereavement by suicide. Details about the forum can be found here.

Samaritans’ free to call number, 116 123, is for people who are struggling to cope. This number is free to call from both landlines and mobiles and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Support After Suicide has details of organisations and individuals that are working across the UK to support people who have been bereaved by suicide. Help is at Hand

What do I do if I have a complaint?

Should you have a complaint about the Facing the Future service please contact us via email support@every-life-matters.org.uk or telephone 07588 016 166. We investigate all complaints thoroughly in accordance with our complaints policy.

Is the service evaluated? How do you know if you are making a difference?

We give regular opportunities to feedback about how supportive you have found our support groups. This feedback is anonymous in order to encourage everyone to give their opinion freely, and we structure the questions so that thanks to your input we can understand what impact the groups have had, evaluate different aspects of how the groups are run and learn from your comments to improve the service for future groups.


How do I become a Peer Support Group Volunteer?

We are now recruiting volunteers to support groups in Barrow-in-Furness, Kendal, Penrith, Carlisle, Maryport and Workington.

Each of our support groups is run by a team of three volunteer group facilitators. Between them, they facilitate the session, get the conversation started, make sure everyone has the opportunity to talk if they want to, organise refreshments, and generally look out for people. Our group facilitators do more listening than talking, but they also usually find the groups a source of personal support as well.

We ask that our volunteers are bereaved by suicide themselves, usually for more 18-24 months prior to volunteering. This shared experience with the people who come to our groups is a really important part of what makes them so effective. Volunteers will be comfortable listening to the experiences of others. People feel that they will be understood. We also ask though prior to applying that you consider where you are in your own grief journey, and how it might impact you listening to the experiences of others.

Volunteers will be offered initial training programme of around 10 hours to give them the confidence and skills to safely facilitate a peer-led support group. Training will include facilitation and listening skills, safeguarding, suicide prevention skills and more. Volunteers will be closely supported by one of our staff when first starting the role and will get mentoring support from more experienced volunteers. Ongoing training and support from one our staff team will also be available.

People from all walks of life volunteers for us. Volunteering as a group facilitator can be emotionally demanding, but very rewarding. It will require a minimum commitment of around 4-5 hours per month. 3 hours each month to run the group (including half an hour each end to set up and clear up) plus time to talk to new attendees and liaise with our volunteer co-ordinator and other staff. Volunteers might also attend additional training opportunities.

The role can be emotional demanding so you will need to factor in additional ‘me’ time to look after your own wellbeing and debrief after sessions.

Volunteer facilitators might also get involved in promotion of the groups, promoting better understanding of suicide bereavement through engaging with our local media, getting involved with practical administration of the groups, fundraising, helping moderate our closed online Facebook support group and more. We can discuss this at training.

Support Group Volunteer Application Form

PLease fill out the application form below. We aim to contact you by phone or email within two weeks of submitting this application to arrange a time to talk about your suitability for the volunteer position, what it involves and what happens next with your application. We aim to run training for new volunteers in early 2024. For information about how we store and use your personal data see our Privacy Policy

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