CHIBS was established in 1984 by a group of people who felt there was a need for bereavement support. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, obtaining charity status in 2003. CHIBS is now working with a pool of 50 Befrienders, all whom have undergone a criminal record check (DBS), are professionally trained and receive regular supervision. On average, the charity sees around 150 clients per year but this is on the increase. The range of support can range from a single phone call to a number of visits over a period of months.
In recognition of the good work we do we were awarded ‘The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award 2004’ and have also received the ‘The Duke of York Community Initiative Award’.
“One of our strengths is that we are run entirely by volunteers. Many of the befrienders have suffered bereavement themselves and so understand the feelings of loss, desolation, guilt and bitterness that grief can bring. We do not give advice but we do listen. People feel they can open their hearts to us in a way they might not be able to do with their families or those close to them. There is always the pressure to put on a brave face or to ‘move on’. People feel they have to be strong for their families and that can be a burden. Just sitting and talking to a befriender can bring comfort”.
Jenny Hirst of Lightcliffe has been a CHIBS volunteer since the inception of the service. She signed up after she moved to the area from London and spotted a notice about an open meeting for interested people. She now jointly runs the monthly bereavement support group as well as working with adult and children clients.
“The reward comes from helping people through a very difficult and stressful time. We understand that people cope with bereavement in different ways – some people come to us straight away. For others it can be several months before they are ready to talk. We know that people may feel angry or bitter or guilty. In a way we are giving them permission to have these negative, very raw feelings. The -best thing we can hear is when someone says, ‘I think I’ll be all right now’.”