A collaboration of counselling organisations has been handed a funding boost from the NHS so it can deliver bereavement support to people who have lost loved ones due to coronavirus.

NHS Bradford District and Craven CCG established the Bradford Counselling Collaborative so agencies and commissioners could work together to help increase the impact of therapy for the population.

The group, made up of more than 10 counselling agencies across the Bradford District and Craven area which employ our members, has successfully bid for funding from its local CCG to offer bereavement support for people who are grieving the loss of family or friends or experiencing loss due to other changes, as result of the pandemic.


The funding will pay for professional counsellors to deliver 1,000 hours of grief and loss counselling, as well as paying for training for 50 support volunteers and befrienders to help with lower-level enquiries and signposting.

Our member Alex Church, who works in the Mental Health commissioning team for NHS Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Groups and has been instrumental in setting the Collaborative up.

Alex said: “Covid-19 has significantly increased the number of people across the district who will experience grief and loss. This could be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job/finances or just the loss of freedom. It is important that we have qualified counsellors on hand to support communities in the district deal with this

“Having a collaborative that was already formed means we have been able to mobilise quickly with the pilot and different agencies work together to deliver this.”

Jo Holmes, our Children, Young People and Families Lead, said: “The Counselling Collaboration in Bradford is a great example of counselling networks coming together with a shared vision to look at gaps in current provision to best meet the needs of the local community.

“Their response in providing a joined up approach to plan for the grief and loss experienced by Covid-19 demonstrates a true collaborative approach, ensuring standards and equality of access to much needed community support.”


People who need support will be able to contact a special helpline, where they will be assessed by qualified counsellors and either referred on to one of the befrienders, or a professional counsellor.

The support offered will be sensitive to the multi-faith society of the local area, said Alex.

The collaboration will ensure that training is given and supervision is delivered to volunteers and counsellors.

Alex hopes that if the pilot is a success then this could be commissioned further as demand on services will only increase in the coming months.

Sasha Bhat, head of commissioning for Mental Wellbeing at Bradford District and Craven Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The Counselling Collaborative enables us to work together to develop a coherent offer of evidence based support across our population and yet maintain the bespoke responsiveness for local communities.

“This at scale yet place based approach has the potential to transform how we co-design and commission for population health and wellbeing.”

Our member Pauline Mullarkey, of Step 2 children and young people’s counselling service, who is a member of the Counselling Collaborative, said “It’s wonderful the NHS recognise counselling can support the Covid-19 response.

“This is an exciting opportunity to work in this innovative way with such a diverse, talented group of voluntary and community sector counselling providers who share the same ethos as a collective, each partner supporting with our own specialisms.

“This joint up approach enables us to mobilise quickly and effectively, responding to the needs of the Bradford health population.”