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April 23, 2024

Leaving bereaving

I started working as Manager at Leeds Bereavement Forum (LBF) in January 2016. Having worked in the third sector for over twenty years at that point, I had never before found a role that everybody I came into contact with could relate to.  I had worked for many valuable charities supporting youth education; epilepsy; refugees and asylum seekers; Leeds third sector infrastructure, older people and dementia but never had I worked anywhere whose subject touched every single person I met. I have absolutely loved working in death (which does sound weird I know!) because everybody has experience of losing someone or something they love and understands how difficult bereavement can be. I have enjoyed working in partnership with so many different organisations over the past eight years to bring bereavement into the forefront of conversations in the third sector but also the statutory and commercial sectors too. I cannot tell you how much myself and colleagues Barbara and Kathy have poured our souls into our work, to champion all things death, dying and loss.

Very sadly, LBF closed at the end of March. Established in 1996, it was a groundbreaking organisation which linked together all the bereavement services available in Leeds. We signposted thousands of individuals to the best bereavement service for them via phone, email and our online directory. We provided a range of low cost or free training around bereavement for organisations in the city and we campaigned to make Leeds the best city for bereavement support in the country. We held popular and successful annual conferences, offering new information and advice as well as networking opportunities for people who worked in bereavement in Leeds. Working in partnership with Dying Matters Leeds we encouraged people to talk about dying, death and loss through our monthly Death Cafes, as well as spotting the gaps in local bereavement support and campaigning to fill them.

Our legacy

We are proud about what we leave behind, including:

  • We were instrumental in the creation of the first specific suicide bereavement support project in Leeds, which has now developed as Leeds Mind Suicide Bereavement Services.
  • We spotted the gap in provision of bereavement services for young children and were part of the commissioning process with Leeds City Council in 2018, which led to Child Bereavement UK providing its first services in Leeds in 2019.
  • In the past few years, we successfully applied for funding to offer bereavement support training to staff and volunteers who work with older people, people with learning disabilities and men, which are groups of people who we know were missing out on receiving bereavement support.

The pandemic in 2020 led us to new challenges but we strongly believe Leeds was the most joined up city for bereavement services in the UK. Very quickly we were able to provide waiting times and lists for all the bereavement services to support both the NHS in Leeds and Leeds City Council. We monitored how bereavement enquiries changed through the pandemic with bereavement support enquiries becoming more complicated and muti-layered, often with additional mental health needs.

What has happened to our work?

Our website is still live, but has undergone a number of changes. It will remain live in a limited format until the end of 2024.

  • Information from our Bereavement Directory of Services should shortly be available on Leeds Directory. A big thank you to Leeds City Council for supporting our work going forward.
  • For more information about Peer Bereavement Support visit Full Circle Funerals who will continue our work in this area. Full Circle Funerals have been fabulous allies for the past eight years and we are very grateful for their ongoing support.
  • Leeds City Wide Bereavement Forum meetings will continue, kindly facilitated by Nicola Swales at Child Bereavement UK. Please contact for more information.

Other bereavement support available

Mindwell, the mental health website for people in Leeds has a great bereavement  and loss section for people needing further information and advice.

Cruse Bereavement Support offer a phone line for people wanting to talk about their bereavement on 0808 808 1677.

Thank you

We want to thank all our supporters and friends in Leeds and nationally in the third, statutory and commercial sectors for the work we have done together over the last 28 years. We are heartbroken to have closed. Sadly, like many other charities in Leeds and across the UK we need sustainable, long-term funding to be able to continue.

With all our warmest wishes, Jane, Barbara and Kathy

Jane Robinson
Manager, Leeds Bereavement Forum