History of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland
Cruse Bereavement Care developed from the work of Margaret Torrie, who, in 1959, in her hometown of Richmond, Surrey, started a small group in her own home for the support of local widows.
In looking for a name for their group, they turned away from the word widow, which comes from the French vide meaning empty. Instead they turned to a story from the Middle East, found in the Bible, where, during a time of famine, a widow cared for the prophet Elijah. The story tells how, although she had little flour and oil, as long as she looked after Elijah, her “cruse” (a vessel like a jug or a jar) of oil never ran dry. The group took this story with its message that as long as they looked after each other they would always have resources both for others and for themselves. However, despite the derivation of the name, Cruse is a non-religious organisation and welcomes people of all faiths and none.
Over the past 50 years, the organisation has grown from a single support group for widows in Richmond, into two national charities - Cruse Bereavement Care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland, a related, but independent charity, both offering support and counselling to anyone, of any age who has been bereaved by the death of someone close to them.
The Impact of Devolution
When health, social work and education became devolved areas of government, the Scottish Branches of Cruse and the former Scottish Management Committee agreed that it would be sensible to take forward service delivery under the auspices of a separate Scottish arm of Cruse. It was believed that this would ensure a structure that reflected the new political arrangements and the needs of clients and volunteers in Scotland. Thus, Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland (CBCS) was set up on 11 April 2001 as a fully independent Scottish Charity, working in a federal relationship with other parts of Cruse and licensed by Cruse Bereavement Care to use the name.
The CBCS Headquarters in Perth became fully operational in February 2002 and exists to provide direct support for the work of the Areas throughout Scotland. It seeks to do this by enabling local Teams and developing Volunteers’ skills both for the ultimate benefit of bereaved clients.
CBCS has 4 territorial areas (North, South, East and West) and one Virtual area (which supports the helpline) involving around 350 volunteers.
About 4 years ago we set up our National Phoneline as a single point of contact for bereaved people. However, we have since recognised the benefits of providing dedicated bereavement support on that phoneline. Using NHS funding we have researched the feasibility of moving the Phoneline from a direct referral model to one capable of delivering initial listening and advice. Over the coming year we will deliver enhanced training to our Phoneline volunteers based on this work. The phoneline is now a fully established helpline and supoprts clients whenever they need it after a bereavement.
In 2012/13 our Phoneline volunteers answered 12137 calls from bereaved people, their families and agencies supporting them. As a consequence we supported 3659 bereaved people either at first point of contact or by referring them to our dedicated listening services.
Our priority over the next few years is to roll out this enhanced service and to extend the number of hours when a volunteer will be available. The aim of the development is to increase our flexibility in providing the service, whilst giving our enquirers a single point of contact.
In a recent publication, Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland reports over 340 volunteers gave in excess of 37,000 hours of voluntary service!