Stepping Stones Bereavement Programmes

Support for bereaved people in our community is integral to the understanding Chalmers Church has of its pastoral support for local people. Eight members of the congregation have been trained and supported in understanding and responding to bereavement issues, and now offer support through the “Stepping Stones Bereavement Programmes”.
Bereavement is a journey to be travelled and not an illness to be cured or a problem to be solved.  Bereaved people need the companionship on that journey of those who understand loss and grief, and who can give reassurance and support as specific issues are faced. Experience shows there is more that is normal in loss than otherwise. But we also know it’s hard for people to be reassured of that in the isolation of their grief. 
Stepping Stones Bereavement Programmes have been running for three years now as part of the life of Chalmers Church, and they are offered in the form of six-week programmes in the Spring and Autumn of each year. These run in the Port Seton Community Centre, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Each programme is facilitated Tom Gordon and four members of the bereavement support team. Tom is an experienced practitioner in this field and a former chaplain at the Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh.
Bereavement support is offered to anyone who feels they need it, and so our “Stepping Stones” programmes are open to all who are living with loss. There is no right time to come to “Stepping Stones” but our experience is that our programmes are best suited to those in their first year of loss. However, are happy to welcome anyone who comes. Those attending have come from the communities of Port Seton, Cockenzie, Prestonpans. Tranent, Longniddry and further afield. We also take referrals from local GPs and other professionals and caring agencies. Attendance at a programme often leads to on-going support, involvement with church and community activities and continued contact with members of the bereavement support team and others. “Stepping Stones” isn’t able to offer one-to-one counselling, but information is made available regarding wider support should this be required. There is no charge for participation.
Publicity We have a supply of leaflets giving information about “Stepping Stones” along with contact details and information about forthcoming programmes. These are made available throughout the community and in the church. Small publicity posters appear from time to time, and information is also passed on to other local churches and agencies. Periodically, publicity is made available through The Courier
What people have said about “Stepping Stones”:

  • Thank you for your openness and welcome.
  • I’ve not been able to talk about how I feel, but it was good to be with people who listened and didn’t judge.
  • Sharing with people on the same journey together.
  • Invaluable insights on medical, social and emotional issues.
  • How good it is to have this support in a local community.
  • I’m still bereaved, but I know I’m not alone anymore.
  • It’s good to know I can come back to another programme later on and still be accepted.
  • Thank you for allowing me to be me.

Programmes As we’ve indicated above, two “Stepping Stones” programmes are offered each year, as this appears to fit the needs of local people. The next two programmes begin on: Monday 25th September 2017 at 2pm and Wednesday 11th April at 7pm, both in the Port Seton Community Centre.
Contact “Stepping Stones” can be contacted at any time for information or to explore options for support – by email at steppingstones.mail@gmail.comor by telephone at 07724 916 700.

Tom Gordon
Stepping Stones Programme Coordinator

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