A BEREAVEMENT support service which helps people who have lost a loved one is expanding across East Berkshire following a pilot project.

Thames Hospice has announced the expansion of its support scheme meaning GPs can now also refer bereaved partners, carers and family members of patients who have died outside of the palliative network.

Families who have lost someone who died from a long-term, life-limiting condition such as dementia, heart failure or cancer at home, in hospital or in a care home will now be able to ask for a referral from their local GP for bereavement support at Thames Hospice.

One resident from Bracknell who accessed the Hospice's bereavement counselling services following the death of her husband, Lou said the service meant she could 'cope better' with her loss.

Stevie said: "As hard as it is to pick up the phone and make that call, once you have there is so much help out there.

"If you can just allow yourself to talk it through and let it out, it helps you cope with what you are feeling and it helps you move on.

"It does not mean you can not feel the loss, it just means you can cope with it better."

In 2018, the charity provided more than 1700 counselling and bereavement support sessions to its patients and their loved ones.

All patients at the Hospice are offered counselling and pastoral care from a professionally trained staff, helping them with psychological and emotional difficulties.

Simon Smith, head of patient and family support at Thames Hospice, said: "The experience of bereavement and those unresolved complications within bereavement can be extremely stressful.

"We are pleased to be able to expand our provision and reach more local people who may need help from our counsellors during this difficult time."