In response to the Covid crisis, Milton Keynes Mission Partnership, an umbrella body for churches in Milton Keynes, are establishing a network of bereavement support groups across the city under the name gentlespaces.

Our research shows that there is a significant gap in provision across the city for this kind of support, which is clearly not confined to those who have experienced bereavement through Covid. In addressing this gap, we are building on the longstanding work of churches in conducting funerals and the experience of working with bereaved people which that entails. We have trained 30 volunteers with the help of the national bereavement support agency, Cruse, and with financial support from MK Community Foundation. We are seeking further support for training another 20 volunteers from other local charitable foundations.

Since March, we have made considerable progress in creating a safe, robust organisation to deliver the gentlespaces project and are due to launch a pilot scheme in November. The gentlespaces project complies with the level 1 requirements in all areas of the Bereavement Care Services Standard (2013). The steering group for the project has considerable relevant experience and expertise and includes Clergy, a Professional Counsellor, a Retired Project Manager, a Retired GP, a Retired Healthcare Chaplain and Retired Hospital Bereavement Support.

We have shared the information on the gentlespaces project with local GP Practices, Funeral Directors, Parish Councils, our colleagues on the Council of Faiths, Hospital and Hospice Chaplaincies, various local Charities, and local Churches including denominational, Independent and BAME. If a group you know would like to receive this information which includes a poster, the information leaflet and information to share on social media, please email missionpartnership@talktalk.net.