MSE News

Free helpline for bereaved youngsters launched with help from Martin Lewis

Free helpline for bereaved youngsters launched with help from Martin Lewis

Children's bereavement charity Grief Encounter has today launched a brand-new free helpline providing instant, confidential advice and support for bereaved children and young people, funded by a donation of £86,000 from patron Martin Lewis.

The Grieftalk helpline is available on the phone, via online chat and email, in time for Mother's Day on Sunday 31 March, as this is often a trigger point for children and young people whose mother has died.

Statistics from Grief Encounter show that 67% of bereaved children do not open up about their fears and anxieties at home, and 27% do not seek advice or help from friends, peers or teachers. 

Even without a helpline in place, Grief Encounter receives 2,000 calls annually, equating to less than 4% of the 44,000 children bereaved every year in the UK.

The charity hopes the dedicated helpline, which is available to anyone who needs help, including adults, means it will be able to help significantly more young people and their families.

 Martin: 'This is about making things more bearable'

Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: “I originally wrestled with becoming a patron of Grief Encounter as it meant I would need to explain my connection. I lost my mother, suddenly, tragically, devastatingly, two days before I was 12. Things were done differently then, so my sister and I didn’t have counselling.

"The scars from it are still so deep that even now, over thirty years later, it is still painful for me to talk about – though having become a patron has actually helped me with that.

"And so, while my normal charity focus is on money issues – I wanted to step outside that, and fund this helpline, so that children facing a similar situation to what I did will have the help I didn’t. There is no cure to grief, but this is about making things more bearable, so they can go on to first survive, and I hope later thrive.

“Only now with the great joy of having my own daughter - now that my wife has become mummy - Mother’s Day can finally become something that I can actually cope with.

“While grief isn’t a mental illness, it does have a huge impact on people’s mental health. It is about time that we did learn to address the fact that our own mental frailties do not mean we are weak people, it just means we are people.”

How can I speak to Grieftalk?

You can talk to a Grieftalk counsellor in various ways:

It is available from Monday to Friday 9am-9pm, and you can speak to Grieftalk as little or as often as you like. 

The service is confidential, and you don’t have to give your name or any other details if you don’t want to. 

What does Grief Encounter say?

Dr Shelley Gilbert MBE, founder of Grief Encounter, said: "Teenagers and young adults are a notoriously ‘hard-to-reach’ group for bereavement support.

"Although confronted with death on a daily basis through media they access, and even music they listen to; this is at a distance. When death of a close family member or friend becomes a reality, this can disrupt a teenager’s world and have a huge impact on every aspect of their life.

"Still developing whilst experiencing social and academic pressures, research shows that without early intervention, bereaved youngsters are more at risk of developing serious mental health issues including depression, addiction, anxiety and suicidal thoughts."