Family Support Service

Family Support Service

Our Family Support Service provides for:

  • Those with a life-limiting illness
  • Those who are bereaved

This support is available for:

  • Family members
  • Carers and friends
  • Children and young people

We offer:

  • 1-1 counselling support
  • Telephone support
  • E-mail support
  • Groups
  • Butterwick Buddies
  • Support in Schools and Businesses.

Butterwick Hospice at Bishop Auckland works closely with Family Action who support young people aged between 5 and 18 who are involved in caring for a family member. 

Each year during May Butterwick Hospice participates in a national awareness campaign called Dying Matters Week. The Hospice uses this week to inform local people about the many ways in which families can access help and support when they or a loved one needs to consider emotional and practical aspects related to death and dying. Please contact our Family Support team for more information.

One-to-One Counselling and Support Service

We offer you a place to come and talk, to speak about your loss and your fears, your pain and your joy, your worries and your hopes. 

We can try and help you deal with anything that life has given you.

Your Counsellor will help you to decide whether you wish to just talk or, whether you would like to use creative material such as art, music, small objects or writing stories to help you deal with your concerns and issues. Remember, humour is also an important factor in support.

One-to-one counselling offers you:

  • Your own counsellor whith whom you are in contact with for as long as you like
  • An opportunity to talk about anything that is concerning you 
  • A fully confidential service
  • Sessions that last approximately 50 minutes
  • An opportunity to decide where the counselling can take place. It can either be in the Hospice, or in your own home.You decide.

Telephone and E-mail Support

Many people are unable to access support at Butterwick Hospice at Bishop Auckland for a number of reasons. Others just prefer support via telephone or email. 

The Family Support Team therefore, offers email and telephone support to any person who has been bereaved or to any person who is affected by a life-limiting illness. 

For further information, please call 01388 603003 and ask for Juliet Wilson, Dianne McKenzie or Carol Iveson,  Or email [email protected]    [email protected]  or  [email protected] We aim to reply to email messages within 48 Hours. 


Relax with OK 2 B Me

We can offer a 4 week 'Relax Kids' course for those primary shcool children who have or are accessing our service.

This programme has been identified by County Durham Public Health as a means to assist children in managing their everyday lives in a fun way. The Relax Kids programme offers kids a 'unique combination of mindful games, storytelling with exercises, stretching, breathing, massage with positive affirmations, visualisations, mindfulness and relaxations.'

"It's exciting, calming, soothing and positive!"

The work that we do at the hospice has shown us that many children, when faced with any terrible situation, struggle to 'relax' and feel good about themselves. Relax Kids encourages these 'feel good' factors. We would like to support children in this by offering them this course. We encourage you to get in touch if you would like your children to take part and to come along yourself too, as it can provide great benefits for adults as well. 

You can all join in! The sessions will be approximately 1 1/2 hours in length. 

The course will take place at Butterwick Hospice, Woodhouse Lane, Bishop Auckland, after school (except during school holidays when it can occur during day time hours).

If you feel your family will benefit from such a course please contact [email protected] or telephone Juliet on 01388 603003 during office hours.

Butterwick Buddies

Butterwick Buddies are a team of people who can help those who are either bereaved or affected by the consequences of a life limiting illness. When you request some support, for instance after the loss of a loved one, a Butterwick Buddy team member will make contact with you. This is to ascertain whether you would like a team member to visit you at home for an open and friendly chat or whether you would like a regular "chat" on the phone with a member of the team.

Supporting Local Schools

The work that we do with families who have lost a loved one and with those who are living with a life limiting condition has given us a wealth of experience in helping children and young people who are challenged by loss. 

We offer support in schools helping teachers to find ways to support children and young people who are experiencing a bereavement or an impending loss. 

We can provide training for teachers to fit in with service training days. If as a teacher, you are involved with children or young people who are experiencing bereavement or loss and you would like some support, feel free to ring us for help.

Training fees are negotiable, please contact us for further information by emailing Juliet Wilson,  [email protected] or Carole Iveson at [email protected] 

Supporting Local Businesses and Organisations

The work we do with people who have lost a loved one and with those who are living with a life limiting condition has given us a wealth of experience into which we can delve, in order to support and train others. 

We offer training on the subject of loss and bereavement and all its different aspects. We believe in formulating our training to account for the specific needs of each individual organisation. 

We can also provide support to individual organisations in the construction of policies and procedures concerning the management of loss and bereavement, such as:

  • The work force and bereavement leave for individuals in an organisation
  • The successful management of a death of a member of an organisation

Look Ahead Group

This group meets once a week on Monday afternoon at 1pm at Butterwick Hospice, Bishop Auckland. This group is for those who have been bereaved at any time. It works on a drop in basis, meaning you can just turn up on the day. 

The group is friendly and informal with a number of regular attendees who are keen to welcome and support anybody new who calls in.

Our Family Support Team are always on hand to provide both individual and group support. Enjoy refreshments and a chat, and occasional social outings along with other practical activities.

Living After Loss

'Living After Loss' is a group in which we provide members with an opportunity to share their experiences of loss with others. During our time together, we will explore the normality of grief and the impact it has on your day to day life.

We will help you to discover, through a variety of tools and techniques the ways to cope with the loss of a loved one.

This group runs over 6 - 7 weeks and has a different theme each week.

Week 1      Sharing our stories

Week 2       What is bereavement? Making sense of your own grief.

Week 3       'Keeping hold, Letting Go.' Exploring feelings about your loved one.

Week 4       Exploring the differences and similarities in the way we express our grief.

Week 5       What can help. Introducing tools and techniques which may help you handle grief.

Week 6/7    Where do we go from here? Moving on from Living After Loss.


New Horizons

Butterwick Hospice recognises the impact that cancer has on an individual and their families and the stress and concerns they may have. New Horizons is a group meeting designed to assist a return to emotional wellbeing. 

The group will be:

  • Friendly
  • Structured 
  • Creative
  • A group of between 6 and 10 people
  • Delivered as 2 hour sessions over 6 weeks

Within the group we hope that you will:

  • Have fun and feel welcome
  • Meet others who share similar experiences
  • Be given the time and space to share
  • Find new ways to 'be'.

The 6 week programme will include:

Week 1    A time to reflect on your journey through cancer

Week 2    Exploring the feelings related to your experiences

Week 3    How cancer has affected the person you are today

Week 4    How cancer has affected the relationships in your life

Week 5    Managing fears concerning reoccurrence and the need for on-going support

Week 6    Recognising how far you have come and your hope for the future


Making Connections

We offer a weekly drop in facility for anyone with, or who has had a life limiting illness, (for example neurological conditions or cancer) to include their friends and family. 

The drop in group meets once a week on Thursdays between 1pm and 4pm.

The groups aims are:

  • To help group members support each other by providing them with a safe and confidential space where they can be themselves and where they can meet existing friends and also make new friends.
  • To provide an environment where group members are able to develop the confidence to talk freely about their feelings and concerns about the future.
  • To be able to share feelings, experiences and knowledge with family and other members of the group who are in similar situations.
  • To act as a support network where group members can support and help each other to accept and live with the illness that they are living with every day. 

The group is facilitated by volunteers but the content of sessions will be directed by the identified needs of group members.

The facilitators will help in acting as a signpost to available guidance and help with issues and concerns raised by the group members.

People are invited to bring their own food if they so wish. Tea and coffee will be provided.


Email [email protected]  [email protected] or [email protected] alternatively you can contact us by telephone on 01388 603003


Case Studies

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