Service needs more helpers

A VITAL service that offers help to bereaved people in Calderdale could be forced to fold unless more volunteers are found urgently.

Calderdale Help in Bereavement Services (CHIBS) is a support group that has been providing emotional help to the bereaved for the past 27 years.

It was set up in 1984 by a group of people who felt there was need to offer bereavement support in a friendly and relaxed way. The service is free and confidential.

CHIBS chairwoman Anne Dalby, of Smithy Carr Lane, Brighouse, said: “2011 is the European Year of the Volunteer and at this time we are in urgent need of volunteers to help us continue our vital work.

“Unless helpers come forward to support our work, our service could fold. After 27 years this must not happen.”

Anne said that it was one of CHIBS’ strengths that it was run by volunteers, many of whom had suffered bereavement themselves in the past.

“They have their own understanding of the many thoughts and feelngs of desolation that grief can bring. This helps them to understand and be sensitive to the needs of the bereaved.

“We do not give advice but we do listen and people feel they can open their hearts to us,” she said.

People needing help come to CHIBS on the recommendation of their doctors, social services or independently. The service has recently been extended to include children.

All befrienders are volunteers who have undertaken professional training. The organisation gets a small grant from the Community Foundation for Calderdale and supports itself with fund-raising through stalls at local events.

The group’s next training session starts on Saturday, March 26 and will involve four evening sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays and an additional Saturday. The training is run at Lawrence Funeral Service in Halifax. All trainees are CRB checked.

“At the moment we only have six people undergoing training and we will not be able to operate if more do not come forward. Our need is greater than ever.

“We know that people are busy these days but we are grateful for any help people can give us. We can tailor the volunteers to the number of hours they can give. Most of the time it would not even be once a week.

“CHIBS can only exist through the generosity of people who give their time to help others,” said Anne.

Anyone who is willing to volunteer or would like to find more information should contact Anne Dalby on 1484 716889. The CHIBS helpline is on 0845 0099220.