We’re backing a call from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice asking the Government to urgently invest in bereavement support for people who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic.

At the forefront of the campaign is our member Kathryn de Prudhoe, whose father Tony Clay died from Covid-19 in April.

Kathryn spoke movingly about her and her family’s experience of bereavement, of accessing support and of why professional, trained counsellors and psychotherapists are needed when she gave evidence to MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group for Covid-19 last month.

She’s now written to the Treasury on behalf of the campaign calling for the increased investment and the group has sent a submission in as part of the government’s comprehensive spending review (CSR), which is a blueprint for spending over the next four years.

We’ve joined other mental health organisations to support the campaign’s call.

We’ve also referenced it on our own submission to the CSR, in which we stress the crucial role that professional, trained counsellors and psychotherapists can play in this support.

Kathryn’s letter reads: “Unfortunately bereavement support for those who have suffered losses as a result of Covid-19 has so far been inadequate. We are desperate for the government to change this, before it's too late.

“We are asking for funding for a tiered national system of bereavement services designed specifically to support those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19. This should include helplines, professionally facilitated peer support groups and therapy groups, befriending services, counselling and, for those most in need, trauma informed psychotherapy.”

In our own submission to the CSR we’ve highlighted how the campaign would join together the underutilised resource of counsellors and psychotherapists in private practice, the NHS and GP referral processes, and third sector organisations.

We’ve said that quality bereavement support needs to include access to suitable immediate advice and assistance, peer support, group support and online support as well as also structured support such as 1-2-1 counselling and psychotherapy or group therapy.

Speaking about the importance of the government investing in bereavement support, our Chief Executive Officer Hadyn Williams said:

“Every day we’re given the numbers of people who die from Covid-19. It’s imperative, however, that we also think beyond that to the devastating impact bereavement has on loved ones of those who have tragically lost their lives.

“Families are experiencing complex and often traumatic grief amplified by the unique circumstances the pandemic has inflicted on the world. Many are facing bereavement while enduring an intense isolation at a time when they’ve desperately needed support but have been unable to access it.

“We must ensure everyone grieving has access to appropriate therapeutic support when they need it and we fully support this call from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice.  There are thousands of skilled and qualified counsellors and psychotherapists across the country who are ready to play a crucial role in supporting families to help them come to terms with their losses.

“Providing everyone who needs mental health support with access to it also has economic benefits. Unless the Government acts now, hundreds of thousands of people will be less productive at work, or may have prolonged absences. This country can afford to support people bereaved by the pandemic. It’s in everyone’s interests that we do so.”

Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice represents more than 1,900 families who have lost loved ones due to the pandemic.