HBBS Team Meet John Bercow at Parliament

HBBS Team Meet John Bercow at Parliament

Volunteers and staff at our charity, which offers vital counseling support to children and adults across Brentwood and Havering, were given the “surprise of a lifetime” after landing an unexpected 45 minute audience with John Bercow while on a group tour of Parliament.


Members of the team at Havering & Brentwood Bereavement Service met with The Speaker of the House of Commons for an unexpected “chat” after completing a public tour of the historic Westminster chambers last week.


The rendezvous was arranged by Alex Burghart, MP for Brentwood & Ongar, who was impressed by the charity’s work after making a visit to their offices in William Hunter Way last December.


Havering & Brentwood Bereavement Service has given more than 800 counselling sessions to school children across its catchment area in the past 18 months alone.


It now has a waiting list of young people who are seeking help for issues including bereavement, depression, anxiety and self harm and is seeking funding to secure the service into the future.


The trip to Westminster was arranged by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Essex Dennis Rensch, MBE, a long-term supporter of the cause who approached Mr Burghart earlier this year.


Chair of the Board of Trustees at the charity, Sue Newth-Gibbs, described the meeting with Mr Bercow as an “eye-opening, tremendous surprise”.


She said: “We were looking forward to the tour and we’d heard that we might get to meet Mr Bercow which in itself was a very exciting prospect for our team, but we didn’t expect to be in the Speaker’s rooms for almost an hour.”


The eight-strong delegation from HBBS, made up of volunteers, counsellors, and support staff, also had the opportunity to put questions to Mr Bercow, who has held the post for nine years.


Mrs Newth-Gibbs added: “The look on some of our team’s faces were priceless, the tour of the Commons and the Lords was enough but this made it all extra memorable.


“Bear in mind that this was Budget day and after about 15 minutes one of Mr Bercow’s assistants came in to remind him that he had another appointment, but he carried on chatting to us for another half an hour, we couldn’t believe it all.


“I have to say, I was very impressed with Mr Bercow who seemed extremely well-versed on the work of our charity and he offered us some great advice on how we could build upon what we’ve achieved so far by building a corporate strategy and working with local influencers.


“He even suggested we could hold a future event at Parliament to raise awareness.”


The Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, MP, presided over the Budget session on the day.


Havering & Brentwood Bereavement Service was founded in 1989 and will celebrate its 30thanniversary in 2019.


It will also be marking its tenth year of providing counselling services for children next year.


Despite the charity’s name, it offers a range of counseling services to adults and children for issues such as depression, anxiety, phobias, relationships problems, family breakdown, parenting and trauma.


The charity relies upon grants, donations and events to fund these services.

A Tribute to HBBS Founder Louise Sinclair

A Tribute to HBBS Founder Louise Sinclair

It is with sadness that we learned of the passing of Louise Sinclair.

Louise Sinclair was the founder and first Chair of HBBS. She set up the charity just as she was finishing her first term as Mayor of Havering in 1989. She gathered a a professional group of people around her to form a Management Committee, begged a tiny room from St Francis Hospice, sought small grants from Havering, Brentwood and Essex Councils, recruited a coordinator for four hours a week and launched a charity that offered free bereavement counselling to the residents of Havering and Brentwood.

Income in year one about £4K.

She was a woman ahead of her time, bereavement counselling thirty years ago was unknown and untested territory. It just was not talked about and so little understood. Her contribution, commitment and chairmanship in those first few years of the charity’s life were crucial to its continuing success.

I was last in touch with Louise about 4 years ago when we celebrated our 25th anniversary. She was then 92 but was delighted that we were still running, requested a copy of the annual report and quizzed me at length about our then £200k a year income!

A truly remarkable woman who had the foresight to set up a service that is more in demand today than any of us could have imagined thirty years ago.

RIP Louise - a job well done.

Louise Mundy Highly Commended at Pride of Essex Awards

Louise Mundy Highly Commended at Pride of Essex Awards

We are delighted to announce that our volunteer Business Manager, Louise Mundy was Highly Commended in the Ultimate Category at the Pride of Essex Awards on November 20th.

Louise was praised for her efforts in raising monies to enable the service to continue offering emotional well-being support to local people and for her stewardship of our Kids in it Together activity club for recently bereaved children and their siblings.

Congratulations and well done, Louise.