The Chair of the Board of Trustees at Havering & Brentwood Bereavement Service, Sue Newth-Gibbs, takes a candid view of some of the achievements, opportunities and challenges at the charity over the past year.

“As we enter year a new at HBBS I thought it would be an ideal time for me to reflect upon what has been another exciting and successful 12 months.

We have had more referrals and more sessions for counselling in this very busy year and that trend looks set to continue. The Clinical Team led by Lisa Mason-Gates have done a great job throughout the year as the jigsaw puzzle of taking calls and matching clients to counsellors gets ever more complex.

Thanks to our very own Louise Mundy and Kate O’Keefe for organising so many successful events and associated fund raising is going from strength to strength with a Tea Party, the Annual Ball and the KITT Club events and more is planned for our 30th anniversary this year.

As always we are grateful to our funders including  Children in Need and the Reaching Communities (Big Lottery), also individual donations from Rotary, Martin Hughes and many others.

2018 was also ‘the year of networking’ for us, otherwise known as getting ourselves “out there”.

The Mayor of Brentwood and the Deputy Mayor of Havering attended our AGM, the Mayor of Havering and the Deputy Mayor of Brentwood attend the Ball. We enjoyed visits from the High Sheriff for Essex and Brentwood MP. Eight of us were invited to the Houses of Parliament to meet Mr Speaker John Bercow and Alex Burghart our local MP. Team HBBS attended the Mayor’s Christmas Party at Ingatestone Hall and her Carol Service at St Nicolas Church. We are also invited to meet with the Chair of Essex County Council in January 2019 to discuss our work with schools.

I am very pleased to see Louise Mundy receive the Highly Commended Award in the Ultimate Volunteer category at the Pride of Essex Award ceremony 2018.  One further piece of exciting news is that we have been nominated for the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. This is the organisational equivalent of an MBE and we will know the outcome in mid 2019 (so fingers crossed).

In November we said goodbye to Karen Egglestone our CEO and welcomed her successor Emma Tierney. Emma holds accredited BACP status and this provides us with the opportunity to seek accredited status for HBBS. This recognition could have a huge impact on us as it would give us access to new areas of work and projects.

Last year has provided a number of challenges including closure of the Extended Schools Programme, end of the Brentwood NHS contract and the loss of bonded status for the Brentwood Half Marathon.

But as always HBBS rose to the occasion, school contracts are increasing, the paying client service is growing and even the cancellation of the BHM still brought in donations.

No doubt 2019 will bring new challenges but financially and structurally we are in a good place to meet them and will continue to be able to support the local community with the professionalism and quality service that is the hallmark of our organisation.

All that has been achieved in 2018 and the plans for 2019 are about working together. So onward and upward Team HBBS.”

Sue Newth-Gibbs

Chair of Trustees