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Adapting to Offer Vital Support

Siobhan Reading is a Volunteer Trainee Counsellor at Peace Hospice Care.  When the pandemic forced the UK into lockdown, Siobhan, alongside others in our Counselling team, continued providing support over the phone. We spoke to Siobhan about her experiences.

“I’m in my final year of a counselling diploma and first became involved with Peace Hospice Care after I met Laura, the Hospice’s Bereavement & Counselling Co-Ordinator when she came to my college a year and a half ago. I had a conversation with her as I was interested in finding a placement at a Hospice with a focus on bereavement.  

I had only delivered two in-person sessions when lockdown hit, and from then, my support moved to a listening role for this client which allowed her to feel supported during a difficult time. Over lockdown I was able to support 12 clients virtually, which made a difference to their feelings of isolation on top of recent loss.

To help this transition to virtual support, I received additional training through the BACP and a Counselling Tutor for training to learn how to work remotely. I’ve done a lot of remote working so it felt comfortable and very intuitive – I felt confident of my ability to support my clients. I had great supervision from the Hospice and a lot of support. That was important to me as I felt I’d made a commitment to Peace Hospice Care and it was important to be able to carry on in my role.

I came back into the Hospice around Christmas to work face-to-face, though continued providing some support over the phone. With the changing rules around lockdown, I had to return to fulltime remote working but am looking forward to returning to face to face counselling soon.

The range and diversity of patients is so wide within the Hospice – I’ve worked with clients for whom bereavement is not their defining referral, it could be other types of loss. Clients are looking for support particularly over lockdown, for some people it was incredibly isolating and lonely and it may be that I am only person they speak to every week which shows how vital it is that we are able to support both in-person and virtually, retaining our patient-centred focus, working to people’s individual needs.”

The impact

Linda received counselling from Siobhan during lockdown. Linda said: “My husband died March 2020 and the counselling was really helpful. At the beginning I went to the Hospice when restrictions allowed and then it had to be over Zoom. Siobhan was really nice and it did help. At first I thought ‘what am I going to talk about?’ and then I couldn’t stop talking which is what it’s all about. I got it all off my chest – it was what I needed.”

I got it all off my chest – it was what I needed.

Georgina received counselling support from the Hospice during the pandemic from one of our other counsellors. She said: “I was fortunate enough to receive 8 weeks of counselling from Alex. He was very, very understanding, professional and kind. He listened and was empathetic and was able to help me steer my way through this terrible experience of grief – which of course I’m still going through.”


If you would like to find out more about our Counselling & Bereavement service, or to self-refer, please call us on: 01923 330 330 or at ptservices@peacehospicecare.org.uk.