Dawn Bereavement Support is part of the Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

About us

Discover our Story

Coping with grief can be difficult. Dawn is a bereavement support group which brings together local people who have lost a loved one to share advice, information and social activities.

Dawn began when the need for a bereavement support group became clear during discussions between Janis and relatives who’s loved ones had died in our hospital, (Relatives who had kindly participated in focus groups, to find ways help us improve support for other relatives in the same predicament in the future). A Macmillan grant was successful and funded a bereavement counsellor Barbara to work alongside Janis to develop a bereavement service and to set up a bereavement support group.

The initial purpose of the group was to bring local people together who have lost a loved one so that they could support each other on their grieving journey by sharing stories, advice and information along with the opportunity to be involved in social activities. This support guided by knowledgeable and skilled facilitators. This has become a very successful service, with often in excess of forty people turning up at a meeting. The group has always gained excellent feedback from its members evaluations of the service.

Dawn is now run by a voluntary team of very experienced bereavement facilitators who are warm and friendly people, all of whom work within the health service. All the members of this team have a special interest in bereavement through their own personal and professional experiences and are committed to, and passionate about helping support those who are grieving.

We, the Dawn team, hope to help and support you in whatever way we can. We will all be at the meetings, there to listen to your personal stories, and to facilitate discussions in small groups. Here is a little bit about us, and our roles within Dawn.
Janis - Chair of Dawn

My name is Janis, and I am the Chair of the Dawn Bereavement Support Group, and I’m proud to be one of the founders. I am an educator and nurse, working for the Hull Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, in the winter of my career! My career has always involved working in some capacity with those who are grieving. The last thirty years has involved working closely with those struggling to find ways to get back on with their lives, after their precious loved one has died. Most recently, I worked as one of the Hospitals Trust Grief Support Team. I too have lost someone very close to me and appreciate the ‘heart hurt’ and personal struggles on this difficult journey. I am also a trained Grief Recovery Specialist. All the committee/facilitators and I are passionate about trying to make a difference, and in assisting you via the Dawn Bereavement Support Group though the tough, challenging, and demanding times that may lay ahead.

Pat - Treasurer

I am Pat, and I have been part of the Dawn committee for several years. Whilst I have been retired for more than a ‘few years’, my working career involved finances and banking which is quite useful as the treasurer! I am presently working as an NHS volunteer at the Queens centre at Castle Hill Hospital. I understand the pain of grief, having lost my husband and other close relatives. I believe in the importance of this type of support, and I am keen to help in any way I can. I am also trained as a Grief Recovery Specialist.

Linda - Grants Officer/Zoom Lead

My name is Linda, and I have been a committee member of the Dawn Bereavement Group for approximately two years. I am an Integrative Psychotherapist working in a not-for-profit organisation in the York area, and I also have a placement in the Oncology Service at Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, offering therapeutic support to patients. Over the twenty years that I have been a therapist, I have worked with bereaved people who are grieving due to a variety of different experiences, as well as supporting numerous people to manage their anxiety and depression.

I am also a trained Grief Recovery Specialist. Bereavement is something that we all face at times in our lives, and it is my privilege to be able to offer support at Dawn.

Nic - Library Liaison

My name is Nic, and I am a ‘newish’ member of the Dawn bereavement committee. My knowledge and experience of supporting those who are grieving has come from my work as a Nurse and an Educator. I worked in End-of-Life Care for over twenty-five years. Most recently, I have worked as part of the Grief Support Team at Hull Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. I have just completed my training as a Grief Recovery Specialist. My professional and personal experiences have made me very aware of the importance of ensuring that the bereaved have appropriate information, understanding, and support.

Alex - Information/Website Officer and Minute Secretary

My name is Alex, and I have been a nurse for many years, working mainly in end-of-life care. Having supported many bereaved families, bereavement support is something I’m deeply passionate about. I currently work at Hull York Medical School, undertaking research to explore how we can best support bereaved children and families. During the pandemic, I returned to work in the hospital, and set up a family support team for the Intensive Care Units in which we were able to provide initial bereavement support to families, liaising with Janis and her team.

I was delighted to be asked to join Dawn in 2020. I am also a trained Grief Recovery Specialist, and I want to make a difference by supporting bereaved people.

Claire - Newbie Officer

My name is Claire, and I have been a nurse for over twelve years working in the Hull Universities Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; caring for those within the cancer and palliative care setting. I am a dedicated Dawn committee member, and I am a trained Grief Recovery Specialist. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I worked for the Hull Universities Teaching Hospitals Bereavement and Grief Support teams, in addition to my own role, because this is so important to me. I am wholeheartedly committed to helping and supporting those who have been bereaved in any way I can.

John - News Editor

I am John. My original career was in the scientific field, but a period of mental illness caused me to change career, and I retrained as a social worker. After several years in child protection, I started work at the local Hospice where I worked for twenty-nine years. For the last fourteen of those years, I managed the Family Support Team, as well as maintaining direct work with patients, their families and the bereaved. I am now retired, and remain passionate about providing bereavement support to people, and so I have joined the Dawn team.

Sue - Speaker Organiser

I am Sue, and I recently joined the Dawn Bereavement committee, and I am looking forward to being part of this team. I have worked in healthcare all my career, initially working as a registered nurse. However, for the past twenty-seven years, I have worked as a midwife. Within my role, I have supported many families following the sad loss of a baby. Four years ago, I became the first Bereavement Midwife working for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, and developed a dedicated service to supporting bereaved families. Alongside this role, I have worked in the Grief Support Team providing information and support to families and friends who have suffered a loss in the recent pandemic.

I am personally aware of the impact of losing a loved one, and I am passionate about helping others at this difficult time.

*All the members of the committee have dual roles, firstly they are facilitators of the groups and or individual support, secondly, they are active committee members. This team work dedicatedly and enthusiastically, in both capacities, all of which is done completely voluntary. If you want talk to one of our facilitators/committee members at one of our meetings, you will have our names and details in your packs, and we will also be wearing name badges. Please do come and talk to us.

Honorary Lifetime Committee Member

Sandra Smith stood down from the committee at the end of 2020 she originally became involved with the Trust Bereavement Support when she completed the eight-week course that Janis and Barbara ran. In due course, Sandra came back to help them set up the Dawn support group. Sandra has worked tirelessly as a member of the Dawn committee. She was constantly marketing and fundraising. Often, she was the groups expert, and user mouthpiece on the radio and in the local newspaper. At every group meeting, she was a proficient facilitator of one of the small groups. Also, Sandra gave up much of her own time to adeptly support the DAWN members on the many trips away. Sandra ran the quiz week; she devised and led this initiative. This activity was always enjoyed by our membership. The light entertainment was found to be an excellent way for individuals to get to know each other. Sandra’s kind, thoughtful, caring, and competent manner is in part from her own close bereavement experience, and from many years in nursing, teaching, and pastoral work.

However, she will still ‘pop up’ from time to time as our amazing quizmaster, or perhaps eloquently telling her story to help other bereaved individuals. She will always be there somewhere in the background. Thank you, Sandra, for your passion, commitment, and dedication to Dawn.