How often do you hold support group sessions?
We currently host three support group sessions a month in London, and one a month in Oxford.
We currently meet every first Wednesday of the month in our East London venue, every third Monday of the month in our North London venue, and every second Tuesday of the month on our South Central London venue.
We meet every second Monday of the month in our Oxford venue.
Where are the support group meetings held?
We currently have three London support group locations. Our North London support group sessions are held at the Vale Community Centre in South Kilburn. The nearest station is Kilburn Park station, which is on the Bakerloo line. It is a 5-8 minute walk from there.
Our East London support group sessions are held at St Margret’s House in Bethnal Green. The nearest tube station is Bethnal Green, which is on the Central line. The venue is a 5-minute walk from there. We are based in the Cabin (The Cabin is down a walkway to the left of The Gallery Cafe, look out for number 15 & 17 Old Ford Road, go through the gates and round to The Cabin. Signs will be out to guide you.)
Our South Central support group sessions are held at sofa.com in Bankside. sofa.com’s Bankside branch is a 5 minute walk from Southwark (Jubilee line) and Blackfriars (District and Circle line) tube stations. It is also a 10 minute walk from Waterloo and London Bridge stations.
Our Oxford support group sessions are held at Kendrew Lodge, at St John’s College.
Please see our Support Groups page for our precise locations.
How long are the support group meetings?
Our North London, East London and Oxford support group sessions last for two hours, between 6:30pm and 8:30pm. We occasionally finish a little earlier, either because the session has come to a natural close, or to give our attendees the chance to chat with one another more informally before leaving. Speaking informally with others in a similar position to you can feel hugely relieving.
We ask attendees to please be on time for the 6:30pm start of the support groups as it can be very distracting to be interrupted whilst potentially talking about such emotional topics.
Our South Central London group lasts for an hour and a half, between 7.30pm and 9pm. Based on feedback we have received these groups are themed, e.g. for specific losses or particular topics within grief to discuss. Each month we will be running a different theme to try to meet the needs of people who want more specific support. Please be on time for a 7.30pm start. We only have access to the venue from 7pm; if you are early just let the lovely sofa.com staff at the welcome desk know you are there for The Loss Foundation support group.
Can I arrive late at a support group session?
We ask attendees to please be on time for the 6:30pm or 7.30pm start of the support groups as it can be very distracting to be interrupted whilst talking about such emotional topics. Our facilitators start the group sessions by introducing themselves and covering some guidelines about how the groups run, which we would not want anyone to miss out on.
If you know you are going to arrive late we ask you to reconsider coming along on that occasion out of respect for other attendees. At the same time we know that things happen that are out of our control and that you may have tried to arrive on time but were unable to for various reasons, and in that scenario you will not be turned away from the group if you arrive late.
What happens in a support group session?
We pride our group sessions on being defined by the people who come along, and therefore, tend to fill our sessions with the things you would like to share and discuss at that time. We know that coping with grief can be an unpredictable journey, and therefore, we think it is better to deal with whatever feels most prominent on the day.
We do not impose agendas in our support groups and instead talk about whatever you have come along to talk about on the day. Typically we spend some time sharing our experiences in our confidential and non-judgmental spaces. We share memories, thoughts, feelings, worries and more. We provide refreshments each month and will occasionally spend time just catching up with one another over a cup of tea and slice of cake.
Although this is a peer led support service we do have some members of our team at every event to help facilitate. Our facilitators are there to: set up the support sessions, pass on guidelines about the sessions, to try to make sure everybody who wants to talk gets the opportunity to do so, to signpost you to other support, and most importantly, to compassionately listen and support you.
Please note that our South Central London group runs slightly different to the other groups. This group is themed, e.g. for specific losses or particular topics within grief to discuss. Each month we will be running a different theme to try to meet the needs of people who want more specific support.
You can find more details of the themes on our Next Events page.
Why was The Loss Foundation set up?
The Loss Foundation was set up after a personal experience brought to light the lack of support available for people grieving the loss of a loved one to cancer. Our Founder, Erin Hope Thompson, lost her father to cancer in 2008, and witnessed the struggle that her family members experienced coming to terms with their loss. Erin was struck by the lack of support for people who lose their loved ones to cancer. After all, when a loved one passes away, those left behind are often left with a very empty space and often no idea how to fill it, or even how to pull through to a more manageable state of mind.
Erin sought some financial support, and after recruiting a dedicated and hard-working team, running focus groups, speaking to other professionals and support groups, The Loss Foundation was born in November 2010 and our support group sessions started in April 2011.
Do the support groups provide therapy?
Our groups are self-help peer groups. This means that we do not provide formal therapy, but instead create an environment where we can share experiences informally. This allows for our groups to provide long-term support, rather than a strict number of therapy sessions. And it also allows for our groups to be of a drop-in nature – people can drop in as and when they feel is necessary, or attend every session. However, our groups are run by psychologists and other health-professionals all of whom are psychologically minded and trained to recognize if people would benefit from further support, which you are welcome to ask us about.
In early 2016 we launched a new type of support group, which is considered a closed therapeutic group. People sign up to attend the group, which runs for a set number of sessions and comes with a set programme of bereavement support. Our groups for 2016 are now completed, and we will release information on future groups down the line. Please sign up to our mailing list to be kept up to date via the Contact page.
Can I work for The Loss Foundation?
We are always happy to hear from others who would like to join our team. We hold information evenings once a year for people who are interested in joining our team as a facilitator of our support events. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in send us an email via the Contact page.
We also occasionally need help with a variety of other tasks, both practical and creative.
Practical tasks include taking some of our leaflets to your local GP surgery, speaking about your experience of our support at events, carrying out some fundraising activities, and more.
Creative tasks include reading and reviewing suggested bereavement books for us, writing articles of your experiences for our website, or helping us develop the charity in ways we haven’t yet ventured. All of these tasks can be therapeutic in themselves. If you are interested in helping the charity, and if you have ideas we have not mentioned, please get in touch via our Contact page.
I work for a similar organisation. Can I come along to observe a group?
We get a lot of requests from people and organisations about observing our group sessions so they can learn about our model of support. Unfortunately we are rarely able to have observers at our sessions as we prioritise creating a private and confidential space for our attendees. Please do contact us about this rather than just turning up. Thank you!
Can I donate to The Loss Foundation?
Yes, donations are always welcome, and will go towards funding our group sessions, branching out our support groups and spreading awareness of our support. If you would like to make a donation you can press the Donate tab at the top of the page.
You can give a one-off donation or sign up to donate monthly via Direct Debit. Every penny counts and goes towards supporting those who lose their loved ones to cancer.
Many thanks for your generosity.
Will the buildings be open if I am early?
Our sessions start at 6:30pm. Our venues do not allow access until 6:15pm so please try not to be any earlier than that because we don’t want you to have to wait outside!
Our themed sessions at our South Central London group run from 7.30pm. Please try not to be too early as we only have access to the venue from 7pm. If you are early just let the lovely sofa.com staff at the welcome desk know you are there for The Loss Foundation support group.
Who is The Loss Foundation for?
The Loss Foundation is in place to support anybody bereaved by cancer. All who have lost a family member, friend or acquaintance to cancer are welcome. We welcome people from same-sex relationships, and people from all cultures and religions. All of our attendees are hugely supportive and welcoming – please feel free to come and be supported by us.
Do you only support people bereaved by cancer?
Yes and no… At this stage our support groups are for people who have lost loved ones to cancer. We have learned that specificity is something that people value in the support they receive. According to research and the feedback we get from our members, specificity is what encourages people to turn up and return to our support groups because they tie in more closely with their experiences.
However, we are increasingly being contacted by people who are keen for group support when they have losses other than cancer. It is against our ethos to shut our doors to people in their time of need. If you are not bereaved by cancer but in need of bereavement support you are welcome to join us at our monthly socials – these are available to people who have experienced any type of bereavement. You can find out more about these on our Socials Events page.
If you are not bereaved by cancer and are keen to access support elsewhere, please feel free to get in touch with us and we will help you as best we can. We are currently creating a database of bereavement support available across the UK so we might be able to help you find another service that would be better placed at meeting your needs and supporting you.
If you would like to be kept up to date with our support updates, you can subscribe to our mailing list on our Contact page.
Do you provide help in ways other than support groups?
Yes we do! We know that support groups are not everyone’s cup-of-tea. Our support has continued to evolve according to our members’ feedback and requests. One example of this is our social meet-ups, in which we meet once a month to connect with others who have experienced something similar but not in a group support format, whether it be over a coffee in a park, or at a chip-shop by the river. For more information and upcoming meeting dates, see our Social Events and Next Events page.
We also run bereavement retreats throughout the year, which provide a mixture of supportive activities, including group chats, one-to-one time with psychologists, country walks, meditation, arts and crafts, and delicious meals. The retreats are very popular and beneficial. Our next retreat will be in November 2017, you can sign up to our mailing list to be kept informed of details. For more information see our Retreat page.
It is also worth noting that most people who feel apprehensive about attending a support group are pleasantly surprised. We have had a lot of feedback from people over the year about how nervous they had been to attend but how beneficial they found it. Less than 5% of the people who attend our groups do not come back again.
Stay tuned for more support! And let us know if there is a different type of support that you would find helpful.
Who runs the charity?
Our charity is run by a mixture of psychologists, doctors and other professionals. See our About Us page for more information. We also have a Charity Board who oversee the big decisions for the charity and guide it’s direction for the future. You can find more information on our Board members on our Meet the Trustees page.
Did the charity have a different name previously?
Yes, well spotted! We were working under the name ‘Bereaved Partners Support Group’ until August 2014, which is when we officially became ‘The Loss Foundation’. Our new name was inspired by our members, who helped us work towards a more inclusive name and website.