Family Support Services

Family Support Service Stockton

When you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a progressive illness, or there has been a bereavement, this can cause great stress for you and your family.  Our Family Support Service is available for family members, carers and friends, as well as children and young people. It provides support and guidance for those coping with a life-limiting illness, anticipating the loss of a loved one and those who are bereaved.

Our Family Support Team understands the emotional, practical and relationship challenges a terminal or life limiting illness can create for individuals and families. We have used our training, combined with many years of experience, to devise a range of services and groups to support your particular needs and circumstances during this difficult time, and moving forward.

We can offer:


  • One to One Counselling Support (Adults, Children and Young People)
  • Telephone Support
  • E-mail Support
  • Group Support for Adults
  • Group Support for Children
  • Moving on Together Group
  • Family Sessions
  • School Visits

Organised Groups

  • Pre and Post Bereaved Children’s Group
  • Drop In
  • Connexions
  • Forget Me Not
  • Service of Remembrance
  • Training

Please read more about our Family Support provision below and choose which service or services meet your needs. For more information or to self-refer please contact the hospice reception on 01642 607742 and ask to speak to a member of the Family Support Team. You can also email our Head of Family Support at

[email protected]


One to One Counselling and Support Service

We offer you a safe space to come and talk with a trained counsellor to speak about your loss, or anticipated loss, and the feelings and emotions around this difficult and upsetting time in your life. Grief and loss affect everyone in different ways, but often cause people to experience feelings such as anxiety, depression, disorganisation, anger, withdrawal, panic attacks…etc.

As you develop this professional relationship you can explore changes in your day to day life, family relationships and how you see your future. Working with the support of your counsellor can help you to see things more clearly, feel emotionally stronger or work through unresolved issues which are causing you distress.

Our one to one counselling offers you;

  • Your own counsellor to support you for as long as needed
  • An opportunity to talk about your own personal experience and how it is affecting you
  • A fully confidential service
  • Sessions that last approximately 60 minutes

Counselling sessions can take place either at the hospice in our dedicated counselling rooms, or in your own home, subject to circumstances.

Telephone Support

Some people are unable to access support at Butterwick for a number of reasons.  Ohers just prefer support via telephone.  The Family Support Team offers support to any person who has suffered a bereavement or who is affected by a life-limiting illness.


If you are attending as a patient or are a friend or family member of a Butterwick patient you can self-refer to the Family Support service by contacting the hospice reception on 01642 607 742 and asking to speak to a member of the Family Support Team.

Alternatively, referrals to the counselling service can be made through your GP, hospital consultant, schools or external agencies such as Macmillan/District Nurses or Social Care Team.

A copy of our referral form is available here: Family Support Referal Form

You can also email [email protected] for more information

Bereavement Groups

Group Support can be very beneficial because you are among people who are, or have been, in a very similar situation to you. Bereaved people often understand just how you feel, reducing the sense of isolation and anxiety arising from your grief, and it can help to know you are not alone.

Drop In

The ‘Drop In’ group welcomes the recently bereaved, and meets every Saturday from 10.00am until 12.00pm, except for bank holiday weekends. It is facilitated by trained listeners from our Family Support Team and offers individual or group support along with an opportunity to socialise with others in similar situations, sharing common experiences and adjusting to loss.  We invite you to “drop in” and meet us in this safe and friendly environment where we can discuss how we can help.

Come and meet us over a cup of tea and a biscuit.….


Connexions is for anyone who suffers from a life limiting illness and is looking for that little bit of extra support. The group meets at the hospice every Monday from 10.00am to 12.00pm except on bank holidays.

Connexions is run by members of our Family Support Team who are there to offer support with a lovely cup of tea and a scone, and have an informal chat to see how we can help.

In addition to an opportunity to socialise and share experiences, it includes activities such as quizzes, bingo, art, health and wellbeing talks – all provided in a safe, friendly environment.

Forget Me Not

The Forget Me Not group meets once a month, on either a Saturday or a Sunday, and is organised for bereaved people who are feeling isolated or alone.

It provides an opportunity to engage in social activities such as Sunday lunch, Pamper Days, walks around Hardwick Park, Tai-Chi and mindfulness, alongside others in similar situations. Members of the Family Support Team are also there to provide a listening ear and emotional support.

Moving on Together (MOT)

The Moving on Together course is run by Family Support Counsellors and held at the Butterwick Hospice. It runs over 7 weeks, focussing on a different theme each week and provides members with an opportunity to share their experiences of loss with others.

Working within the group, we will explore the normality of grief and the impact it has on your day to day life. By introducing and developing emotional wellbeing skills and resilience, we help you cope with the loss of a loved one and adjust to the everyday challenges it has created.

Children’s Bereavement Services

Bereavement and loss affect every individual regardless of age.  At Butterwick Hospice we believe that children and young people should be given the choice to access our service.  We can offer this to all children and young people whose lives have been affected by a death, who are anticipating the loss of a loved one, or are struggling with the effects of life-limiting illness in their family.

Children and Young People’s Counselling

When children or teenagers are struggling with the upset and trauma around an illness or death in the family, their emotions and feelings can be supressed or are displayed as behaviour such as anger, tearfulness or anxiety. They may be confused or need extra reassurance at such an uncertain time and we can provide valuable support, through one to one counselling and group work, and working with the family to provide better communication and awareness.

Using creative activities, therapeutic play or counselling support, we can help to identify what a child or young person is feeling and thinking, giving them a safe space to work through things, gain a greater understanding and be better equipped to cope with changes in their life.

One to one children’s counselling can take place in the hospice itself, at school, in the home, or indeed, any other “safe” place where the child or young person feels comfortable.


Children’s Pre and Post Bereavement Group

We also hold our children’s pre and post bereavement group, Kidz Club, every fortnight during term time, to support the emotional wellbeing of children anticipating the loss of a loved one, or following a bereavement. Kidz Club also provides children and their parents/carers with an opportunity to socialise with other families experiencing common, emotional and social factors and reduces isolation. It is supported by Family Support Team staff and volunteers.


Other Services

Butterwick Remembrance Service

Our annual Service of Remembrance is for friends and relatives to come together and remember the loved ones they have recently lost.  This is an informal gathering, organised by the Family Support Team, with a service of prayers, poems, and choral performances, where people are invited to bring flowers to remember their special person.

James Cook Neonatal Family Support Service

Our trained counsellors visit James Cook neonatal unit every week to provide emotional support for new parents and their families, as they care for their babies on the ward. This can be a challenging time for parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. We can offer the space and time to talk about the stress of a premature or traumatic birth, or health complications for mother or baby, helping everyone to adjust to and cope with their new circumstances.

All services offered by our Family Support Team are free of charge to patients and their families and are a part of the many forms of help and support provided by the Hospice to those facing the realities of a life limiting or terminal illness.

Training in Bereavement and Loss

Occasionally our Family Support Team provides training for other professionals who come into contact with those who have been bereaved.  Examples of this would be teachers, care workers, employers, etc.

We aim to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of bereavement, loss and life-limiting illness
  • Encourage the self-awareness and personal growth of each participant
  • Develop a range of skills to aid communication
  • Gain a brief insight into theories of bereavement and loss
  • Facilitate an understanding of ethical and professional boundaries in good working practice
  • Gain an understanding about the specific needs of adults, young people and children

This course is suitable for those seeking to develop:

  • An understanding of the process of bereavement and loss
  • An understanding of how personal experience affects our perceptions of bereavement and loss
  • The skills needed to ‘work’ and ‘be’ with people suffering from bereavement, loss and life-limiting illness
  • The skills and knowledge required when working with adults, young people and children


If you would like to access any of these services, or for more information, please call the hospice reception on 01642 607742 or alternatively e-mail our Head of Family Support at [email protected]

Family Support Service Bishop Auckland

Family Support Service Bishop Auckland

Family Support at Bishop Auckland offers a range of services to support adults, children and young people who have been bereaved or are affected by cancer or other progressive life-limiting illness, either in themselves or a family member.

Our services are available to all users of Butterwick Hospice Care as well as residents from Bishop Auckland and surrounding areas, including Weardale, Teesdale and Sedgefield Localities.

Counselling for Adults

The diagnosis of a life-limiting illness or the death of a significant person in your life can turn your world upside down. You may experience stronger emotions than you have previously experienced or expected.

Whether you’re trying to make sense of an initial diagnosis, are involved with complex treatment plans, or facing the end of your life (or that of someone close to you), counselling can offer a safe and confidential space, in which to explore what this means for you, and where you can feel supported during this time.

When you have been bereaved, grief can feel overwhelming. Being able to share your feelings and emotions with a counsellor can help to build resilience, reduce stress, and help you feel more in control and able to cope with the changes and thoughts of facing a future without your loved one.


If you are attending as a patient or are a friend or family member of a Butterwick patient you can self-refer to the Family Support service by contacting the hospice reception on 01388 603003 and asking to speak to a member of the Family Support Team.

Alternatively, referrals to the counselling service can be made through your GP, hospital consultant, schools or external agencies such as Macmillan/District Nurses or Social Care Team.

A copy of our referral form is available here: Family Support Referal Form

Groups for Adults

We provide a range of support groups and social groups which provide an opportunity for people to come together, meet new people and feel supported. Our groups include a Bereavement social group and a social group for people diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and other Neurological conditions. Both groups meet up weekly for refreshments and chat.

Counselling and Group Support for Children and Young People

Just like adults, children and young people who have experienced the death of someone important in their life, may find themselves struggling with a powerful range of emotions. Through the use of creative play, arts based therapies and memory building activities, children and young people can be helped to understand what has happened, and can learn to understand their feelings and how to manage them.

Based upon the individual requirements and support needs of the child, we may offer one-to-one counselling or a place on one of our 6 week Bereavement Groups for Children or Young People.

Support and Advice for Professionals

We provide support and advice to various education and health & social care professionals to assist them in their support of others, or to give guidance on referrals or signposting.


We provide various training and CPD workshops around the specialist subject area of Bereavement and Loss and in helping to support both adults and children. Our training is available to professionals in Education, Health & Social Care, Community/Voluntary groups and other organisations.

For enquiries and further information on any of our services please telephone Family Support at Bishop Auckland on 01388 603003 or email [email protected]

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