Articles Tagged ‘emotional support - Brake the road safety charity’

Benefits of following this guidance

Peace of mind that you are providing the best possible crash protection in the event of a crash.

Best-possible comfort for the children, who invariably get fidgety on long journeys.

High standard of compliance with risk assessment procedures within your institution.

Opportunity to use the process as part of a learning exercise for the children on measuring and the importance of their special child seat or seat belts.

Opportunity for a learning exercise for younger children on measuring and the importance of their car's special child seat.

Helping children to be safer when out and about in vehicles with their parents or other relatives, as they will be more aware of the importance of seatbelts and child seats.

Opportunity to update your internal health and safety policy to ensure you apply this standard on every trip.

Evidence that you can use when you apply for your Healthy School status, or on your website when you are explaining what a safe and responsible institution you are.

Brake Family Liaison Officer Awards 2019

FLO Award logo 2019

Brake Family Liaison Officer Awards

Brake is pleased to confirm that its Family Liaison Officer Awardswill return in 2019, and are now open for entry.

The awards celebrate and recognise the outstanding achievements and support provided by Police Family Liaison Officers, and showcase best practice in supporting families following a road death or serious injury.

Following a judging process, an awards ceremony will take place in summer 2019.

Three categories will be open for nominations in 2019:

  • Outstanding Officer Achievement Award

This award is open for peer entries from Police staff, and we are encouraging nominations from all 43 forces in England and Wales. This award seeks to recognise significant, ongoing contribution to victims’ families from an FLO.

Outstanding Officer Achievement Award entry form
Outstanding Officer Achievement Award guidance notes

  • Family Award

This prize is open for families who were supported by a Police Family Liaison Officer. We would encourage anyone who would like to share their experiences of support from a Police Family Liaison Officer to nominate their FLO for this award.

Family Award entry form
Family Award guidance notes

  • Award for Excellent Longstanding Service

This award, newly introduced in 2019, aims to recognise outstanding commitment and dedication to family liaison.

Award for Excellent Longstanding Service entry form
Award for Excellent Longstanding Service guidance notes

Nominations for these awards are open from 8 November 2018. The deadline for entries is 15 March 2019.

If you would like any further information or guidance about entering the award, please email floaward@brake.org.uk.

The award winners will be invited to present their case studies at Brake's annual 'Police family liaison following road death and serious injury' Conference, which will be held in the West Midlands in October 2019. 

Details of the winners of the 2018 Awards can be found on our website here.

Brake helpline for road crash victims

helplinetalkingpictureless

This webpage is sponsored by: 

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For information about seeking legal support following a road crash, see Brake’s legal support webpage 


Brake's helpline is a quality accredited, Freephone, confidential support service, providing information and advocacy, emotional support and a listening ear.

To speak to our friendly, experienced and professionally trained helpline team, call 0808 8000 401, or contact us via email at helpline@brake.org.uk. The helpline is open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

The helpline provides support for UK residents in the following circumstances:

  • if you have been bereaved or seriously injured in a crash
  • if you are caring for someone bereaved or seriously injured in a crash
  • if you are a professional, such as a police officer, teacher or health worker, wanting advice about how to help people affected by a crash

We will provide support whether the crash was recent or a long time ago, and whether it occurred in this country or abroad.

Read more about who we can help and our helpline specification.

The Brake support team understands that every road crash is different, every caller is an individual and each set of circumstances is uniquely painful, and we tailor our support according to your needs. Our over-riding aim is to help you to feel able to cope, emotionally and practically, in the aftermath of the crash and as you adjust to your new reality. We can stay in touch with you for as long as our support continues to be helpful.

Our helpline officers are trained and experienced support professionals. We can help in different ways, according to your situation, tailoring our support to meet your needs.  

1. We offer emotional support

Our caring support staff will listen to your feelings, and enable you to freely express the emotions you are experiencing, if this is helpful to you. We can also provide reassurance that your feelings are normal in the awful circumstances, and direct you towards further sources of specialist or face-to-face support if this would be helpful:

  • Support from someone who’s ‘been there’:
    Some people find it helpful to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience. Our 'I've been there' service provides an opportunity for you to talk over the phone to a volunteer who has been affected by a crash in a similar way and has found a way forward with their life.
  • Help with symptoms of trauma:
    It may be that the initial shock and trauma of the crash remains with you and makes getting on with normal life very difficult. If you are suffering in this way, it is important to have an assessment with an expert and seek appropriate treatment, which is often a course of talk-based therapy. Our helpline officers can help you understand what you are going through and help you to access assessment and treatment through the NHS and elsewhere.
  • Finding the right face-to-face or specialist support for you and your family:
    We offer a personalised support-sourcing service for callers and their families, and our helpline team are experts in finding suitable local or specialist support, where this exists. This may be a locally-based support worker who can visit you at home or in hospital in the early weeks; a specialist support service for victims suffering a particular injury; online support or peer forums for bereaved young people; face-to-face counselling, bereavement support or other talking therapy; local support groups; carer support; befriending services; or any number of different types of help. Please be aware that this is a sourcing (researching) service, and specific types of support may not exist in all areas.

As well as contacting our helpline for emotional support, you can also read our book Coping with Grief online, or call the helpline for a free copy.

2. We provide practical help

Our helpline officers are trained in understanding and assisting with the practical issues that can affect families following a crash. We can provide information, guidance and advocacy to help you to understand and manage these issues in the best way for you and your family:

  • Information and guidance on a range of issues
    The aftermath of a road crash can leave you coping with stressful new experiences, such as navigating the criminal justice system, becoming a carer or facing financial hardship. We can help you to understand criminal justice procedures and other practical matters, further explain any of the information provided in our support guides, talk through any problems you are facing, provide friendly and professional guidance, and signpost you towards specialist sources of additional help and information. Sometimes just discussing these issues with someone experienced in supporting those affected by a road crash can help you to make sense of the problems you are facing and to make decisions about how to move forward.
  • Advocacy and practical assistance when it all feels too much
    Sometimes it can feel just too difficult to approach officials or research sources of help when your world has been turned upside down by a road crash. You may be finding it hard to get answers, or just lacking the energy to make your voice heard due to bereavement or injury. Our helpline officers can assist by liaising with officials on your behalf, whether you are wanting answers from medical staff or a coroner; struggling to tell the bank what has happened; or need to find childcare so that you can attend a trial, we can try to help.
  • Contact with a specialist lawyer
    Families experiencing bereavement and injury following a road crash can find it helpful to seek legal support for a number of different reasons. It may be that you need help finding a will or dealing with probate issues, or there may be financial concerns, for example if someone who contributed to the household income has died or if you are unable to work due to injury or new responsibilities as a carer. There can also be many costs involved in the long-term care and rehabilitation of victims who have suffered a serious injury. Our helpline officers can provide information about seeking legal support and advice, and are able to discuss the best way to source an expert, specialist solicitor, who can talk to you, without obligation, about whether you might be able to claim for damages following a crash. Reputable, specialist solicitors will be able to advise you on whether this is possible or not for your case during a free, initial consultation. Our webpage on Finding appropriate legal support and advice provides further information.
Our support standards and providing feedback
You can read our support service standards, including for our helpline. You can also read comments about our work, and provide feedback. If you wish to make a complaint please read our complaints policy.

 

How we are funded 

MoJ LOGO Funded by UK Gov victim services 2017 18 MoJ grant agreement

The helpline's delivery in England and Wales is supported by a grant from the Ministry of Justice; kind support from the following specialist road crash personal injury solicitors: Slater and Gordon Solicitors, Lyons Davidson Solicitors and Irwin Mitchell Solicitors; and donations from the public and from the following PCC offices:

Bedfordshire PCC Cambridgeshire PCC Cumbria PCC
Derbyshire PCC Devon, Cornwall and The Isle of Scilly PCC Dorset PCC
Dyfed-Powys PCC Essex PCC Hampshire PCC
Kent PCC Northumbria PCC South Yorkshire PCC
Sussex PCC Staffordshire PCC Thames Valley PCC
Warwickshire PCC West Midlands PCC West Yorkshire PCC

The helpline's delivery in Scotland is funded by Digby Brown Solicitors. The helpline's delivery in Northern Ireland is funded by public and corporate donations to Brake. A grant from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office enables us to support people in the UK who have been affected by road death abroad.

If you want to help Brake’s important work
See our fundraising ideas or donate online. You can also read about two of the many bereaved families who have generously helped Brake by reading Katie's story and Jamie's story.

Brake support standards

This webpage is sponsored by: 

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Pack covers 2015 2016

Brake takes very seriously the requirement to meet the needs of people bereaved and seriously injured by road crashes, and to provide them with the best quality support we can. This page outlines our objective and aims, and the service standards we aim to meet.

To ensure our service standards are met, Brake maintains internal protocols relating to the aspects of service delivery outlined below, trains staff in these protocols, and monitors output to ensure these standards are complied with. Brake also works to maintain appropriate funding levels and pursues funding as far in advance as possible to enable delivery against these standards, although sometimes we are constrained by a lack, restriction or withdrawal of funds, or uncertainty about future funding. 

You can also read our helpline specification and who we help for more information about our helpline services.

If you have used our victim services, we welcome your feedback. You can provide feedback using our online form. You can view our complaints policy here.

You can also read our guide to government agency codes and standards, which may be relevant to you in the aftermath of a serious road crash. If you would like help understanding any of these, please contact the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401 or helpline@brake.org.uk.

   Brake's victim services objective

Brake's victim services' objective is to help relieve the suffering and assist the recovery of people bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes to enable them to lead positive, healthy and happy lives into the future. We aim to do this through an effective set of services delivered to people who are often in extreme distress and have profound needs, and also delivered to those who come into contact with them and are able to provide additional support, such as police officers, nurses, and family members.

   Brake's victim services aims 

  1. To support victims’ emotional recovery in order to enable them to feel valued, comforted and safe during a time when they are highly vulnerable.
  2. To provide information to facilitate victims’ understanding of often unfamiliar and complex procedures resulting from a crash, and to aid informed choices.
  3. To problem solve and to help to resolve difficulties, by talking through options and by offering and providing as necessary, advocacy relating to practical and procedural difficulties victims are facing, in order to help reduce the stresses that such issues can place on victims at the worst possible time.
  4. To help victims to identify and acknowledge any medium to long term psychological or physical symptoms, including trauma symptoms, from which they or their loved ones may be suffering and help them to seek and access appropriate assessments and treatment from the NHS and other sources to alleviate these symptoms.
  5. To facilitate access, where appropriate and where possible, to agencies and services which are able to provide face to face or specialist support which complements the support provided by Brake’s helpline and to signpost victims to relevant services and experts, nationally and locally, to assist in their overall recovery, and to help support their practical and emotional needs.
  6. To provide support and information to people caring for, and professionals working with, bereaved or injured road crash victims.

Most people using Brake's victim services have a combination of needs relating to two or three of these areas. Different needs emerge in different ways and at different times. Services offered to meet these needs are:

  • Support over the phone or by email from a Brake helpline officer;
  • Information provision through Brake’s websites and support literature, for adults and children;
  • Information and problem solving over the phone or by email from a helpline officer;
  • Advocacy on procedural issues, through phone liaison and email/written correspondence between a helpline officer and external agencies on behalf of the victim;
  • Appropriate face to face support provided by local agencies, sourced by a Brake helpline officer;
  • Support over the phone from a Brake volunteer, who has been bereaved in a similar way and has made a good recovery, facilitated by a helpline officer;
  • Exploration, identification, assessment and treatment of on-going psychological and physical symptoms suffered by the victim due to the crash, through liaison between the victim, the helpline officer, the NHS and other agencies.

   Brake’s road crash victim support literature standards

Brake has been producing support literature for people bereaved and injured in road crashes and their carers, and supporting these people through our helpline and associated services, for many years to great acclaim. To deliver high quality, accessible services that are relevant, appropriate and useful for bereaved and injured crash victims, Brake adheres to the below standards.

Brake victim support literature: 

  1. is written in plain, simple, concise English, so it is as easy to understand as possible.
  2. is objective; Brake does not express subjective opinion through its victim support literature.
  3. provides information and advice, so that service users can make informed choices, rather than instructing and leading service users towards a particular course of action.
  4. is checked and updated regularly, in consultation with relevant experts, so the content is as accurate and up-to-date as possible, within the constraints of our funding.
  5. covers a comprehensive range of topics that are relevant to the type of service user at which it is aimed, while also being as concise as possible.
  6. is distributed as widely as possible to the type of service user it is aimed at, within the constraints of our funding, and made as accessible as possible to those who would benefit from it, including being available on our website.
  7. is available in alternative formats as much as possible, within the constraints of our funding. Most notably all information in Brake’s literature is available over the phone (via Brake's helpline). Some literature is available in different languages or in audio version, although this is subject to funding availability.
  8. is presented in a professional, high-quality format, which acknowledges the way the literature is used, to support accessibility and ease of use, including quality design and materials, and use of correct language.

   Brake's helpline standards

Brake operates a helpline contacted by hundreds of people every year who have been affected by a road death or serious injury, and professionals who work with and care for these victims.

Brake’s helpline officers:

  1. will respond to service users who leave an answerphone message or email helpline@brake.org.uk within one working day (Monday-Friday) of their message unless otherwise stated.
  2. will use careful listening and straightforward questioning to identify individual service users' needs, so the support provided can be tailored to these needs, while respecting a service user’s right to say as much or as little as they choose.
  3. will use plain English and the use of additional tools such as Brake’s road crash victim support literature to aid understanding of information being provided.
  4. will put the services user’s needs at the heart of their work, prioritising these needs at all times, in line with the aims of Brake’s support services.
  5. will explain clearly the services available and the limitations of those services, so service users understand what is and isn’t available.
  6. are paid professionals, experienced in helping people in distress and trained in the needs of victims of road death and injury. 
  7. work to strict confidentiality, data protection and safeguarding protocols. This requires Brake’s helpline to maintain the confidentiality of any service user unless a service user agrees to particular information sharing in order to enable advocacy on their behalf, or unless there are extreme concerns relating to their immediate safety or the safety of others. Copies of Brake's victim service policies on confidentiality, data protection and safeguarding can be obtained by emailing admin@brake.org.uk.

Brake's 'I've been there' service

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This service enables you to talk over the phone to another bereaved or injured person who is a Brake volunteer. The call will take place at an agreed time, and your details will remain confidential. The volunteer will not talk in detail about their own case, but they will be able to listen to you with a deep understanding of what you are going through, answer any questions you may have about how they coped with different aspects of their experience, and talk to you about how they found it possible to feel happiness again. Please note that this is not a befriender service, and it will not usually be possible to speak to a volunteer more than once.

Calls are facilitated and connected by your Brake helpline officer, and the bereaved or injured person you speak to will not know your full name nor be given your phone number. 

While you are talking to the Brake volunteer, a helpline officer will be listening in, aiming to ensure that the call is meeting your needs and if necessary helping to steer the conversation in a helpful direction (although generally they will be a silent partner in the call).

Brake helpline officers try to 'match' your circumstances to those of the Brake volunteer you speak to. So, for example, if you have suffered the death of a child, they will try to match you with another bereaved parent.

Calls generally last up to an hour, and you are welcome to end the call at any time you feel it is appropriate or if the conversation is not proving helpful to you.

To request this service, please call the helpline on 0808 8000 401 or email helpline@brake.org.uk.

Coping with emotions and feelings

Coping with how you feel emotionally

When someone is seriously injured in a road crash, it is traumatic for the person injured and their close family and friends. People react in many ways and it is natural and normal to experience strong feelings.

This section outlines some feelings you and your loved ones may experience and provides practical advice to help you cope. While physical injuries will be the over-riding concern, it is important to give feelings the attention they deserve too. Strong feelings can lead to serious medical conditions, such as depression. With good support, these conditions are less likely to develop, or can be identified early and appropriate care provided.

I can’t believe it has happened

It can be very hard to come to terms with the shock; the fact that the crash has really happened. Shock can be particularly hard to bear if the crash has resulted in life-changing injuries, shortened life, or if someone died in the crash. It may all seem unfair; ‘why has this happened?’ is a common thought.

It is common to mull over the circumstances leading up to the crash and wonder if you, or others, could have done anything to stop it happening. ‘If only…’ is a usual and particularly painful thought process.

What you can do
Seek immediate support from the people around you

Many people find it difficult to share their feelings with others. However, sharing feelings does help, particularly with close family and friends who may be experiencing similar feelings.

Sometimes, family and friends find it challenging to share thoughts with each other because they are trying to be “strong” for each other, or for other reasons to do with their relationships with each other. However, mutual support can be very helpful, and stop you feeling a sense of isolation.

If you can’t share your thoughts with someone close to you, or you find that this doesn’t help, seek help from someone who can provide a confidential, listening ear and comfort you. This could be a local counsellor, doctor, teacher, spiritual leader, or some other responsible member of your community who you know and trust.

Crying often helps when talking about what you are going through. It is usually better to express your feelings than try to hold back tears.

I have very strong feelings

Sometimes, feelings experienced may be strong, and at times over-powering and exhausting.

Anger is a common feeling. It is common to feel angry if someone is being held responsible for the crash. It is common to feel angry with society for not treating road safety seriously enough. This can be particularly hard to bare if you are not used to feeling angry.

It is also common to feel angry at other people who say things that you rightly consider inappropriate or who even behave as if nothing has happened. (This is usually because they are afraid they may say the wrong thing.) You may feel that “nobody understands”.

Anxiety is another common feeling. It is common to feel worried and suffer feelings of panic. You may worry about the safety of yourself or other loved ones, particularly on the road but also generally. You may be scared about what the future may hold

Stresses previously taken as being part of life can sometimes become unbearable. You may get upset at small things as well as the big things. You may feel tense or restless. You may also find you forget things and have difficulty concentrating.

Some people feel as though the future is bleak. They feel there can’t ever be a time when it will be possible to feel happiness again. Plans for the future may be wrecked.

Some days may feel much worse than others. Some people feel like they are on a rollercoaster of emotions.

What you can do
Understand these feelings are normal, keep talking, and take your time

An important way to cope with such strong feelings is to understand they are symptoms resulting from what has happened. It is not your fault that you are feeling this way, and it is normal in the circumstances. These feelings are not part of your character, and, if you take care of yourself and seek support, they can subside over time and be replaced by more positive feelings.

Treat yourself to simple comforts that are likely to make you feel a tiny bit better or calmer. This could be as simple as a cup of tea, listening to calm music, or sitting in the sun for ten minutes.

Some people find that being creative helps them to be calm. For example, writing, drawing or mounting photographs can be positive, peaceful activities. Find something small to look forward to, such as a visit from a friend.

It is easier to make mistakes at times of severe stress. Take extra time and care if you or a loved one is driving, cooking, or doing other potentially dangerous jobs. Try to avoid making big, difficult decisions. Treat yourself gently.

For some people, it is tempting to resort to alcohol or illegal drugs. However, these are stimulants that do not help, and have damaging consequences. Tranquilisers prescribed by a doctor may be helpful in the short term but some can become addictive and are not a long term solution.

It can help to explain to other people how you are feeling so they are not surprised if you display these feelings around them. If you work, it can help to talk to your employer and colleagues. If you are at school, it can help to explain things to your teacher and friends. Enable these people to give you the time and space you deserve.

There has been no justice

Some people affected by a road crash are unhappy with the punishment given to someone who was held to blame, or the outcome of a claim for compensation. It can also be hard to bear if there is no-one to blame, or if you, or a loved one, was in some way to blame.

You may have other on-going concerns that have direct impact on your emotional well-being, such as issues around appropriate housing for someone with life-changing injuries.

What you can do
Seek support from relevant organisations

Brake’s helpline can provide practical assistance if you feel you need help getting justice, or help liaising with a relevant authority.

My symptoms are extreme and not going away

Some people suffer extreme emotional symptoms and / or physical symptoms. This includes flashbacks, when you feel the crash is happening again, or extremely vivid and scary thoughts and dreams. Other people suffer suicidal feelings on a regular basis.

Physical symptoms resulting from emotional stress include problems eating, problems sleeping, or aches and pains not related to any injury. Some people develop problems such as a stutter, or suffer from shaking limbs, or develop a phobia, such as an inability to leave the house. Other people may struggle to get out of bed and do day-to-day tasks due to emotional upset.

Such symptoms usually fade away with support and care, but sometimes they don’t. If your symptoms are still extreme and have been continuing for more than a month, it is important to seek professional help.

What you can do
Seek professional help

Usually, appropriate treatment is regular sessions of confidential counselling, over many weeks, with an appropriately qualified counsellor who is experienced in helping people who have suffered a traumatic event. Often this counselling is referred to as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This kind of counselling is appropriate whether you are an adult or a child.

You may find that hospital staff or your GP offer you the chance to see a counsellor for free. It is, however, important to ensure they are offering you a service provided by a counsellor who is appropriately qualified and experienced, and also is available soon. It is not a good idea to delay getting this support, or to agree to support from someone who is not qualified or experienced in treating people who have suffered a major traumatic event.

The NHS often has waiting lists; but your needs are important, now. Ask your GP to ensure you are seen as soon as possible. If you think you need help seeking the right support, quickly, call the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401. Brake can liaise, on your behalf, with medical practitioners to seek the support you need.

It is usually appropriate that, firstly, you have your symptoms identified and assessed. This may result in you being diagnosed as suffering from a condition such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression. NHS guidelines on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guideline no. 26) can be viewed at www.nice.org.uk.

Being diagnosed with a condition does not mean you are a weak person. Such conditions are normal following a traumatic event, and it is possible to treat these conditions successfully. This treatment is likely to include at least ten counselling sessions, and often more. Drug treatments can help some people but are not recommended by the NHS as preferable to talk-based therapy.

If you cannot obtain help quickly through the NHS, you may wish to consider paying for private treatment. Sometimes this is possible to fund as part of a claim for compensation.

Lists of providers of therapists who can assess your needs, some through the NHS, some privately, are available from the following organisations:

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy

United Kingdom Psychological Trauma Society

If you are feeling suicidal, call The Samaritanson 0845 790 9090. The Samaritans is a counselling line, open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for anyone in need. It is staffed by trained volunteers. You can also email jo@samaritans.org

Emotional support

A sudden illness, injury, or death of a loved one can be emotionally and physically draining. If you need someone to talk to straight away, you can call the Samaritans on 0845 790 9090. The Samaritans is a helpline, open 24 hours a day for anyone in need. It is staffed by trained volunteers who will listen sympathetically. You can also contact the Samaritans by emailing jo@samaritans.org.

You may find hospital staff or your GP offer you and/or your loved one the chance to see a counsellor to talk about what has happened. If not, you can ask for an appointment. Some professional carers, who may be counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists or psychiatrists, have expertise in caring for someone who has been affected by a traumatic event. They can help you and your loved one talk about your experiences and reactions and ways to cope and feel stronger. You may wish to ask if you can talk to someone who specialises in this. Care from these  specialists can be free if your GP refers you. If your GP does not refer you, you may have to pay for the care yourself. The organisations listed on this page hold lists of professional carers who specialise in helping people who have been through a traumatic event.

Organisations that can put you in touch with professional carers

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
BACP House, 35-37 Albert Street Rugby CV21 2SG
Tel: 0870 443 5252
Email: bacp@bacp.co.uk
Website: www.bacp.co.uk

Disaster Aftercare Services
PO Box 65, Cheltenham, Gloucester GL50 4YR
Tel: 0870 765 0368
Email: dascare@aol.com

United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
167 – 169 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5PF
Tel: 020 7436 3002
Email: ukcp@psychotherapy.org.uk
Website: www.psychotherapy.org.uk

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
Globe Centre, PO Box 9, Accrington BB5 2GD
Tel: 01254 875277
Email: babcp@babcp.org.uk
Website: www.babcp.com

You may wish to contact a local organisation that can offer support. You can ask the nursing staff, a social worker or chaplain for information. You may also wish to contact a national organisation that specialises in providing support to people who have been affected by a certain type of death, illness or injury. Details of these organisations are given on the next few pages.

Organisations supporting people bereaved by any cause:

If your partner has died:

If a child or a child's relative has died:

Support following a road death or injury

Brake
The road safety charity provides support to bereaved and injured road crash victims through a helpline and care literature, including this booklet.

Brake, PO Box 548, Huddersfield HD1 2XZ
Tel: 01484 559909 Helpline: 0808 8000401
Email: helpline@brake.org.uk
Website: www.brake.org.uk

RoadPeace
Provides information and support to bereaved and injured road crash victims.

PO Box 2579, London NW10 3PW
Helpline: 0845 4500 355
Email: info@roadpeace.org
Website: www.roadpeace.org

Support & Care After Road Death and Injury (SCARD)
Offers information and support to anyone affected by road death or injury.

PO Box 62, Brighouse HD6 3YY
Tel: 0845 123 5541 Helpline: 0845 123 5543
Email: info@scard.org.uk
Website: www.scard.org.uk

The Campaign Against Drinking and Driving (CADD)
Supports bereaved and injured people who have been affected by drunk drivers and educates drivers about the dangers of drink-driving.

PO Box 62, Brighouse HD6 3YY
Tel: 0845 123 5541
Email: cadd@scard.org.uk

Support for victims of crime

Victim Support
Provides information and support to people affected by crime through local branches and trained volunteers.

Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London SW9 6DZ
Tel: 020 7735 9166
Email: contact@victimsupport.org
Website: www.victimsupport.org.uk

Support After Murder And Manslaughter (SAMM)
Provides support to families bereaved by murder or manslaughter.

Cranmer House, 39 Brixton Road, London SW9 6DZ
Telephone: 020 7735 3838
Email: enquiries@samm.org.uk
Website: www.samm.org.uk

Support for chest, heart and stroke illnesses

British Heart Foundation (BHF)
Offers a range of resources and has a network of support groups for patients and families affected by heart problems.

14 Fitzharding Street, London W1H 4DH
Tel: 020 7935 0185
Website: www.bhf.org.uk

British Lung Foundation (BLF)
Offers Breath Easy support groups for anyone with lung problems.

73-75 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7ER
Tel: 020 7688 5555
Email: info@blf-uk.org
Website: www.lunguk.org

Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland
Trained nurses offer information and advice. They can refer you to local support groups for people with chest, heart and stroke illnesses.

65 North Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3LT
Tel: 0131 225 6963
Advice line: 0845 077 6000 (Mon-Fri 9.30am-12.30pm and 1.30-4.00pm)
Email: admin@chss.org.uk
Website: www.chss.org.uk

Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association
Provides information and advice to people in Northern Ireland.

21 Dublin Road, Belfast BT2 7HB
Tel: 028 9032 0184 Advice line: 0345 697299 (Mon-Fri 9.00am-2.00pm)
Email: mail@nichs.org.uk
Website: www.nichs.org.uk

The Stroke Association, Stroke Information Service
Provides support and information on publications and services available to individuals and families affected by a stroke.

240 City Road, London EC1V 2PR
Tel: 020 7566 0300 Helpline: 0845 3033 100 (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm)
Email: stroke@stroke.org.uk
Website: www.stroke.org.uk

Support for head and spinal injuries

Brain and Spine Foundation
Provides information and support to brain and spine injured people.

7 Winchester House, Kennington Park Cranmer Road, London SW9 6EJ
Tel: 0207 793 5900 Helpline: 0808 808 1000
Email: info@brainandspine.org.uk
Website: www.brainandspine.org.uk

Child Brain Injury Trust
Provides information and suport to children and young people with a brain injury, their families and the professionals who support them.

Unit 1, The Great Barn, Baynards Green Farm, Near Bicester, Oxfordshire OX27 7SG
Tel: 01869 341 075
Helpline: 0303 303 2248 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm)
Email: helpline@cbituk.org

Headway (The National Head Injuries Association)
Provides information and support to adults with a head injury and their carers, through support groups, day care centres and literature.

4 King Edward Court, King Edward Street, Nottingham NG1 1EW
Tel: 0115 924 0800 Helpline: 0808 800 2244
Email: enquiries@headway.org.uk
Website: www.headway.org.uk

Spinal Injuries Association (SIA)
Provides information and advice for people with spinal cord injuries.

Suite J, 3rd Floor, Acorn House, 387-391 Midsummer Boulevard, Milton Keynes MK9 3HP
Tel: 0800 980 0501
Email: sia@spinal.co.uk
Website: www.spinal.co.uk

BackCare
Provides information on back conditions and managing back pain.

16 Elmtree Road, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 8ST
Tel: 020 8977 5474
Email: website@backcare.org.uk
Website: www.backcare.org.uk

Support for sight, hearing and speech impairment

Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)
Provides information and support for anyone with impaired sight.

105 Judd Street, London WC1H 9NE
Tel: 020 7388 1266 Helpline: 0845 766 9999 (Mon-Fri, 9am–5pm)
Email: helpline@rnib.org.uk
Website: www.rnib.org.uk

Royal National Institute for the Deaf (now known as Action Hearing Loss)
Offers information on a range of issues relating to deafness and hearing loss.

19-23 Featherstone Street, London EC1Y 8SL
Tel: 0808 808 0123 Textphone: 0808 808 9000
Email: informationline@rnid.org.uk
Website: www.rnid.org.ukwww.actiononhearingloss.org.uk

Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
Provides general advice and information on local NHS speech and language therapy services.

2 White Hart Lane, London SE1 1NX
Telephone: 020 7378 1200
Email: postmaster@rcslt.org
Website: www.rcslt.org

Support for burns or disfiguring injuries

Changing Faces
Supports adults and children living with a disfiguring injury.

1 & 2 Junction Mews, London W2 1PN
Tel: 0845 4500 275
Email: info@changingfaces.co.uk
Website: www.changingfaces.org.uk

The Children's Burns Trust
Offers information and support about rehabilitation of children following severe burns.

Cayzer House, 30 Buckingham Gate, London SW1E 6NN
Tel: 020 7802 8464
Email: info@cbtrust.org.uk
Website: www.cbtrust.org.uk

Support for people with a disability

Dial UK
A network of local services run by and for disabled people.

St. Catherine's Hospital, Tickhill Road, Doncaster DN4 8QN
Tel: 01302 310123
Email: enquiries@dialuk.org.uk
Website: www.dialuk.org.uk

Disabled Living Foundation
Provides advice and information on living equipment for disabled people.

380-384 Harrow Road, London W9 2HU
Tel: 020 7289 6111 Helpline: 0845 130 9177
Email: dlfinfo@dlf.org.uk
Website: www.dlf.org.uk

Limbless Association
Provides information and support for people without one or more limbs.

Rehabilitation Centre, Roehampton Lane, London SW15 5PR
Tel: 020 8788 1777 Helpline: 0845 230 0025
Email: enquiries@limbless-association.org
Website: www.limbless-association.org

Information on legal matters

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)
An association representing solicitors who specialise in claiming money following death or injury.

Tel: 0115 958 0585
Website: www.apil.org.uk

The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS)
A national association representing solicitors who specialise in claims following death or injury in a road crash.

Tel: 0117 929 2560
Website: www.mass.org.uk

The Law Society
Offers information and advice on choosing and using a solicitor.

Tel: 0207 242 1222
Website: www.lawsociety.org.uk

Accident Line (run for the Law Society)

Freephone: 0500 192939

Emotional support survey

Fill out my online form.

 

Emotions and feelings

helplinenewThe death of someone close in a road crash is devastating. It is not only incredibly sad, but it is also the worst shock of all. This page lists emotions and feelings often experienced in addition to sadness. Knowing these emotions and feelings are normal at this time may, in a small but significant way, help you to cope with them.

Pages on 'Getting through each day' and 'Getting help from others' provide advice on getting through each day and seeking help from others.

I can’t believe it has happened
It is common to feel as if it has not really happened – to expect a person who has died to walk through the door or call on the phone. It is common to find yourself talking about a person as if they are still alive.

It can be particularly hard to bear each morning when waking up and realising it is true. It may seem so unfair. ‘Why has this happened to me?’ is a common thought.

I feel helpless
It is common to feel helpless, bewildered, powerless and overwhelmed. This can be upsetting and debilitating.

It may be hard to get up and get on with normal activities.

You may also find yourself making simple mistakes when doing the simplest things.

It is wise to avoid high risk activities such as driving or using dangerous machinery, or be extra careful if you feel you have to do these things.

I feel scared
You may feel anxious and fearful. It is normal to worry more than usual that other people, or you, will die too.

It is common to be scared to go out. It is common to suffer feelings of panic, anxiety and confusion if in a busy environment such as around roads or in a shopping centre or train station. You may feel jumpy and nervous in such situations.

'Getting through each day'gives advice about planning and getting through each day.

Frightening thoughts, dreams or flashbacks
Vivid thoughts and dreams about the crash, the person who has died, or a fear, are common.

Flashbacks to the time when the death happened, or when you heard about it, may be experienced. This means it feels like it is happening again. Not everyone suffers flashbacks, but if you do, they may happen at any time and be frightening.

Many people find it helps to talk about thoughts, dreams or flashbacks. 'Getting help from others' gives advice about talking to others.

If only...
It is common to keep mulling over the circumstances leading up to the death and wondering if anything could have been done to stop it happening. ‘If only...’ is a common and particularly painful thought.

Suddenly bereaved people often wish they had told a person who has died how much they love them, or told them this more often.

Thoughts like these may lead to strong feelings of guilt that can be hard to explain to others.

Crying may help – many people find it is better to express feelings than to hold back the tears.

I forget things and am disorganised
Because of the enormous stress you are suffering, it may be hard to take in information you are told, or recall important facts, remember to do things, or do things as well as you would at other times.

This can be particularly challenging if you are involved in procedures such as organising a funeral, understanding the findings of a post-mortem examination, or the processing of someone’s will.

It can also be challenging if you have to work, or have domestic responsibilities such as caring for dependents.

If anyone else can help you, let them share the work.

Suddenly bereaved people are often scared they will forget things about the person who has died. They are scared they will forget their voice, things they said, or how they smelt. There are suggestions about how to keep someone’s memory alive in the next section.

I feel angry
It is common to feel angry. There may be someone or something to blame for the crash. Or you may even feel angry towards the person who has died for leaving you.

It is also common to get worked up over minor everyday things that normally you take in your stride, but now seem unbearable.

For people who do not normally get angry, these feelings may be particularly distressing.

Anger is a normal emotion and nothing to feel guilty about. However, if you are concerned that your anger is being taken out on people close to you, there is advice in the sections 'Getting through each day'  and 'Getting help from others'.

Nobody understands
People might say inappropriate, hurtful things to you such as ‘these things happen’, or ‘you’ll get over it’.

They may talk about their own bereavements that happened in circumstances you consider less devastating and of no relevance to your situation.

Some people may even behave as if nothing has happened.

These people may want to help, but not know how. Many people can help. 'Getting help from others' gives suggestions on how to seek constructive help from others.

Physical symptoms
Many people who suffer a sudden bereavement and the associated shock find they suffer from physical symptoms, as well as strong emotions.

The trauma of your experience can place intense and prolonged pressure on your body. Heart palpitations, feeling faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, tremors and choking sensations are common.

Digestive problems may occur, such as diarrhoea, or you may struggle to eat well or often enough. Muscles may tense up. This may cause localised pains, such as headaches, stomach pains and backache, or a sense of heaviness or weakness. Women may have periods at unusual times or suffer extra pain during their period.

You may have difficulty sleeping. This may lead to tiredness and exhaustion. You may feel like you can’t do anything, or even feel hyperactive.

You may have difficulty speaking. Stuttering and jumbling your words is common.

Whatever your physical symptoms, understanding they are connected to your bereavement can help you cope with them. Over time they should subside. The sections 'Getting through each day'  and 'Getting help from others' include useful advice on recovery.

Lost and different futures
When someone dies suddenly who was at the centre of your world, the future can seem pointless and bleak. Your plans and hopes may be ruined, and your deep sadness means it may be difficult to imagine a different yet happy future.

The stress of sudden bereavement can also be so exhausting that every day can feel like an impossible mountain to climb.

It is important to know that you can recover from the shock by looking after yourself and seeking help.

Many people also find it helpful to know it is normal for suddenly bereaved people to go on to lead full and happy lives, while still remembering with sorrow what happened.

Click to go to the next section of this guide: Getting through each day or to go to the contents page for Coping with Grief.

Finding additional support for you

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Sometimes the shock, grief and pain caused by a road crash can feel like more than it's possible to bear. Talking to friends, family, your GP or a specialist helpline such as Brake's can be enough to see you through, but sometimes a little extra support can be beneficial, such as face-to-face therapy, a visit from a supportive volunteer or meeting others who have suffered a similar experience.

There are lots of reasons why people seek extra support, and many different services exist across the country that can provide help in various ways. Unfortunately, in most areas of the UK, specialist face-to-face help is not automatically offered to road crash victims, and the support that is available via local agencies and charities may be difficult to find out about when you are coping with the aftermath of a crash.

Our helpline officers can research what support is available to meet your needs, and make referrals or signpost you towards the most suitable sources of help.
Please note that we are offering to find existing services, which are not operated by Brake. In some areas, options may be very limited and the nearest service may be some distance away. Brake does not vet or recommend services; we aim to let you know about the options that are available to best meet your needs so that you can make informed choices.

Brake's helpline officers are trained and experienced in working with road crash victims to find the most suitable type of support available for them. We maintain a large database of local, national and specialist emotional support services across the UK, and we are adding to it all the time. If you feel that you would benefit from additional support, over and above the help that is available to you already, please get in touch and we will do all we can to help. If we can't find a suitable service on our database, we will research what else is available for you.

How can I request help in finding additional support?
To find out about suitable support services to meet your needs, just call the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401. If you are finding it difficult to talk about what has happened you can email us at helpline@brake.org.uk or you can ask someone else to make contact, such as a family member, friend, nurse or GP.

Can I request this type of help for someone else?
Yes you can. We are here to help anyone affected by the crash, and if you are concerned about a loved one of any age, we will be happy to discuss their needs with you and search for appropriate support for you to suggest to them. Ideally, you should try to get your loved one's permission before contacting us about their needs, unless you are their parent or guardian and they are too young or for some other reason unable to give their consent. Please be aware that some people do not feel they need or want additional emotional support, and that it will only be beneficial if the person is a willing participant.

Will you be able to find someone who can visit at home / in hospital?
Sometimes we are able to source a service that can provide home or hospital visits, although many services require you to travel to a venue in order to receive support. If it is very important that the support comes to you, please make us aware of this and we will do everything we can to find a service that can meet your needs; however this may or may not be possible in your area.

The crash was very recent and/or I'm feeling terribly isolated and vulnerable. Is there a service that can help?
The first days and weeks following a death or serious injury on the road can be particularly hard to bear. The emotional shock and pain can be overwhelming and feelings can be especially intense, dark or raw. At this time, the companionship, care and support of family and friends can make all the difference, but unfortunately not everyone has access to this type of help. If you feel vulnerable or isolated, or if you have serious concerns about your own, or someone else's, ability to cope, Brake can try to find a suitably experienced support worker for you, who can help you through this terrible time by providing you with face-to-face emotional support, sometimes in your home / in hospital. The support worker will not work for Brake, and may be from a local bereavement service, specialist injury support charity, religious group or befriending network (we will always explore with you the types of service that you would feel comfortable with, before beginning to seek support for you). Please be aware that it is not possible to source suitable support workers in every area, as a result of varying availability of appropriate services to provide this type of help. If we are unable to source a support worker, we will search for alternative sources of help and discuss these with you to find the best available support for your needs.

What happens next?
The helpline support officer will discuss with you how you are feeling, what sort of support you feel may help, and how realistic it is that we will be able to find the type of support you are hoping for. We will agree on a helpful way forwards and inform you of how long we think it will take to do the required research. In many cases it will be possible to direct you towards suitable sources of additional support immediately, or within a week. However, during busy periods, it may take up to two weeks or, very occasionally, longer.

Once we have the details of suitable services, we will call and/or email you to pass on the results of our search, including details of the service(s) we have identified as being suitable, a description of how they can help you, and information about how to access the service(s). In some cases we are able to pass on your details to the service and arrange for them to make contact with you directly, if you give your permission for us to do so. There are some occasions when we find that no appropriate support is available. This is usually when a caller is seeking very specialised support, or seeking face-to-face support within a limited geographical area, particularly in rural areas. Brake’s helpline support is available to you for as long as it is helpful.

Can I continue to receive support from Brake's helpline if I'm receiving additional support from another service?
Yes. We aim to provide Brake's helpline support in tandem with other services, unless there are reasons why this would not be helpful. If this is the case, it will be discussed with you by your helpline support officer.

Confidentiality
Brake's helpline is a confidential service, and we never share callers' names, contact details or details of helpline conversations with other services, unless we have your permission to do so. We sometimes need to outline the broad circumstances of a case to other agencies in the course of researching available support, but we always aim to do this in a way that would prevent the case from being recognised, if at all possible.

Brake believes that families affected by a road crash should be offered immediate, face-to-face emotional and practical help. Read about our Forgotten Victims campaign.

Getting help from others

helplinenew

Other people may be able to provide valuable support to you at this time.

This could mean help from people you already know, or from others, and often from both.

This page explains the people who may be able to help you, and how to access this support.

Help from people close to you
Some people find family or friends provide important support at this time. Talking about how you feel or just having a hug may help enormously.

This is much better than bottling up your emotions.

On the other hand, you may feel you don’t have this support. You may find it hard to talk to people around you because they are grieving too and experiencing different emotions at different times. You may feel these people aren’t close enough or don’t understand you.

People around you might want to help you but not know where to start.

If you are having difficulty communicating with people around you, it may help to read this book together. This can help explain feelings and make it easier to support each other.

Helping children
In many ways, children have the same needs as adults. Children want to know what has happened and be given opportunities to talk about it and feel involved and loved.

It is much better to tell children things than keep them in the dark. Children have powerful imaginations and they may imagine something even worse than the truth if you don’t include them.

someonehasdiedcoverSomeone has died in a road crash is a children’s picture book by Brake. It is for children of any age to read with an adult. The book encourages children to ask questions and think about their feelings and the future. It also provides workbook space for writing down memories. Call the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401 for a free copy.

 

 

Help from bereavement charities
Some people find it helps to contact a charity that supports people bereaved by road crashes. Different charities offer different services in different ways, and you may want to give this some consideration before deciding which charity to contact.

Charities may offer emotional support and information helplines (by phone or by email), support literature, face to face support in your home, group meetings, or holiday retreats.

Some charity services are staffed by professionals with qualifications and experience in providing support to suddenly bereaved people. Others are staffed by volunteers who have experienced a similar bereavement themselves.

Some charities are well resourced and can offer a range of help right away. Others may have funding restrictions and limited services or waiting lists.

For a list of charities, turn to the Useful Organisations section of the guide in which you found this book. For more sources of help, and support from Brake, call the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401.

Help from an expert therapist
It is common for the feelings described in chapter one to begin to subside gradually and go away, even though you are still grieving. However, it is also common to find some or all these feelings don't go away or even get worse.

If it is a month or more after your bereavement and you are still suffering these feelings, it is time to consider seeking professional help. It is not a sign of weakness to do this. You have suffered a terrible event and are correctly putting your welfare first so you can have a positive future.

The recommended help for people who have suffered a sudden bereavement and have ongoing trauma symptoms is usually 10 or more confidential one-on-one sessions, with a psychological therapist who has training and experience in helping suddenly bereaved people to recover, through talking.

This approach is backed by government advice. For example, England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline 26 (www.nice.org.uk/cg26).

Your symptoms may be described by medical personnel as post-traumatic stress disorder or depression resulting from traumatic grief. This is normal and just a way of defining your symptoms so professionals can try to help you appropriately.

Finding the right therapist for you
A first step is to visit your doctor and explain you have been suddenly bereaved, explain all your symptoms, and ask if they can provide access to an appropriately qualified and experienced therapist.

You can talk to your doctor even if your bereavement happened a long time ago.

Some doctors may have a better understanding than others of how to help. Some doctors have access to qualified and experienced therapists and others may not, or not know about them. Show your doctor these pages to help them understand your request.

If your doctor cannot help you find an appropriate therapist in a timely manner, contact the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401. We will try to source a therapist appropriate for you through another route. This may or may not be possible depending on availability of therapists in your area. It may be possible to access a therapist quickly through the NHS, a charity or only privately.

I know someone else who needs help
If someone else may need help, such as another family member, show them these pages. You cannot force someone to get help, but you can give them information to help them make their own decisions. It may also be possible for a health professional to approach someone for you.

You can also ask on behalf of any children you care for. Children can benefit from therapy just as much as adults, and there are therapists who specialise in working with suddenly bereaved children.

Hopefully you will find your therapist effective. However, some people find they have to try several therapists, a bit like trying several different drugs to cure a difficult illness. If you don’t feel your therapist is helping, you may wish to try someone different, always checking they are qualified and experienced.

Drug treatments
You may be offered drugs by your doctor, such as sleeping tablets or anti-depressants.

Some suddenly bereaved people find some drugs helpful at certain times and for certain reasons. Other people prefer never to take drugs.

Drugs may mask rather than cure symptoms, may impede your ability to function normally, may have a range of side effects, and may be addictive and difficult to give up.

You are recommended to consider carefully and discuss with your doctor the purpose and risks of any drugs you are offered and the duration over which you may take them. Expert therapy is the recommended treatment for suddenly bereaved people suffering ongoing trauma symptoms, not drugs.

Sad times and happiness again
Many suddenly bereaved people who are starting to feel generally more positive about life and are recovering from their shock symptoms find that bad days and sad thoughts still occur. This is a normal part of grieving.

For some people this happens particularly at times such as anniversaries. Sometimes something small such as a smell, sound, comment, or photograph can trigger sad emotions.

When something good happens it is sad the event cannot be shared with the person who died.

But it should gradually become easier to have happy thoughts about someone who has died and the joy they brought to the world. It should become easier for you to enjoy life and the experiences it brings.

For many people, being happy again is a wonderful way to respect someone who has died and the joys of life. It is not disloyal to someone who has died to feel happiness again.

Click to go to the contents page for Coping with Griefor to view other online support guides.

Getting through each day

helplinenewLooking after yourself at an early stage can help your symptoms to subside, and helps prevent long-term damage to health and quality of life. This page gives some suggestions that may help you.

Be aware that your feelings may change
You may have different feelings at different times. Your feelings may change suddenly and unexpectedly, which can be exhausting and stressful. It can also be very challenging, for example if you suddenly feel extremely bad in a public place or at work.

It can help to let people around you know that your emotions may be unpredictable and to ask these people to be understanding and supportive.

It can also help to remember that your welfare matters, and looking after yourself when you are experiencing a strong emotion, regardless of where or when that happens, is the most important thing you need to do. Take time out for yourself, rather than try to carry on.

Putting energy into loving other people can also be positive. But think about your needs first.

Knowing what happened
If you are unsure about what happened when your loved one died, it may be better to know rather than imagine things that might not have happened. Police and medical personnel may be able to answer questions and you have a right to ask.

If you don’t feel able to ask, a family member or friend could ask on your behalf.

Be aware that energy levels may vary
Sometimes you may not have enough physical energy to be as active as you would wish.

Sometimes you may not have enough mental energy or find it very difficult to engage in a conversation or debate a point, which can be particularly frustrating if you are normally articulate, feel very strongly about something or need to say something.

You may find this upsetting, particularly if you are normally an energetic person who multitasks and gets things done.

Don’t demand too much of yourself. Try to only do one thing at a time for now. If you feel you need to rest, then you should. If there is someone else who can do tasks for you, let them. Higher energy levels should return.

Food
Some people forget to eat properly or find eating difficult. But it is important to look after your own nutritional needs.

Try to eat a little, often. You may find it helps to stock your fridge and cupboards with foods that are tasty, good for you and comforting but take little time to prepare, such as fruit juice, pots of yoghurt, crackers and carrot sticks.

Unless you have specific dietary requirements, now is not a time to worry about calories. Eat what you want and when you want. If a cup of hot chocolate is comforting to you, then drink one.

Exercise
You may not feel like exercising at all. However, gentle physical exercise, such as going for a short walk in a park, accompanied by someone who cares for you, may sometimes help more than staying in.

Swimming, yoga, jogging or whatever sport you normally do may be relaxing for you and help you to think positive thoughts.

Be aware that very energetic exercise can release chemicals into your system called endorphins that can trigger strong emotions, so you may want to consider avoiding such exercise for a while.

Use of substances
Some people are tempted to use alcohol, cigarettes or illegal drugs to help them temporarily feel more able to cope. However, it is not a good idea to use any substance, whether stimulant or tranquilliser, to manage your feelings.

It is harder to identify and address feelings if they are masked by substance use, and the effects of substance use may be negative rather than positive.

If you suffer from a substance abuse problem, then now is the time to seek treatment. Visit your doctor.

Sleep
It is common to struggle sleeping. Yet continuous lack of sleep is damaging to your health so it is important to try to get as much sleep as you can.

If you find you are regularly awake most of the night then drop off from exhaustion as dawn approaches, try to arrange your life so you can have at least some lie-ins without disturbance.

If you need to take time off work to catch up on sleep, then take it. An exhausted employee is not an effective employee.

Your doctor may be able to prescribe medication to help you sleep but this is not recommended as a long term solution.

Avoid caffeinated drinks after lunchtime, try moderate exercise so your body is tired, and at bedtime try the relaxation techniques suggested below

Relaxation techniques
Many suddenly bereaved people feel very tense. Breathing in and out deeply and slowly for a few minutes can be calming. This is something anyone can do anywhere – at work, on a bus, or in front of the TV.

Therapies such as aromatherapy, massage, or running a deep, hot bubble bath can, for some people, help ease a small part of the tension.

Sometimes you may just feel like sitting somewhere peaceful. Your recovery will take time and you need to make time for it.

An example of a breathing exercise
This simple exercise is suitable for most people in reasonable health and can help some people feel a little calmer.

You can do it anywhere, anytime. It can be useful if you are feeling stressed in a public place, for example on a train.

Breathe in deeply, then breathe out deeply, then count to two.

Breathe in deeply, then breathe out deeply, then count to three.

Breathe in deeply, then breathe out deeply, then count to four.

Continue with the exercise, increasing each count by one each time, up to no more than a count of six or less depending on what you feel comfortable with, then go back to two.

Try this exercise in your own home first to see if it works for you.

Creative therapy to help you remember
You may find it helps to express yourself and remember a person who has died in a creative way.

For example, by making a memory box containing items that belonged to them, mounting photographs, painting a picture, writing down your memories, creating a song or a poem, or planting flowers or a tree. You will have your own idea, of meaning to you.

Some clothing that belonged to the person who died may carry the smell of that person. Some people wish to preserve that smell. Keeping items in an airtight ziplock bag can help.

Taking time out to do such things is not frivolous. It can be very helpful to your recovery and give you reassurance that someone’s memory is being kept alive.

Enjoying activities and making plans
Many people find long-standing hobbies, such as cooking, gardening, playing music, or looking after pets, are therapeutic for them.

Some people find work is a stable and reassuring aspect of their life that gives them a sense of control and continuity.

Make time for whatever helps you.

Think about what the day might bring and avoid unnecessary activities that are likely to make you feel worse. For example, it may upset you to watch a movie or read a book featuring sudden death. Or it may upset you to visit a public place with lots of people and noise. Or your job may be too demanding for you at this time and you may need to take time off.

Try to plan things you can look forward to, such as seeing a friend. However, avoid making big or complex plans until you feel you can cope.

It is easy to make wrong decisions under stress. For now, it may help to focus on just one thing at a time.

Click to go to the next section of this guide: Getting help from othersor to go to the contents page for Coping with Grief.

Help for children

DBS Law is pleased to sponsor this page.  Visit our site>

someone has died book

Like adults, children affected by road death and injury need loving support and information. It is often better to tell children things through honest discussion and involve them in decision making rather than keep them in the dark and leave them excluded in an effort to protect them from the truth.

Our free book for children bereaved by road crashes, Someone has died in a road crash, is full of colourful, warm illustrations and text that helps adults to support children and answer their questions, and is best read in its printed form. Call the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401 fora copy of this book if you care for a bereaved child and have not already been given it by your police contact. The book is also available to professionals (although a charge may be made) by emailing admin@brake.org.uk.

You can also use our guide for supporting children bereaved by any type of sudden death on our Sudden website, an initiative by Brake sharing best practice, research and resources among professionals and carers who work with suddenly bereaved people.

If you are a professional caring for suddenly bereaved children, you may also wish to attend one of our regional seminars on sudden child bereavement. These are particularly suitable for teachers, club leaders, social workers, counsellors and health professionals.

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I can't believe it has happened

It can be very hard to come to terms with the shock; the fact that the crash has really happened. Shock can be particularly hard to bear if the crash has resulted in life-changing injuries, shortened life, or if someone died in the crash. It may all seem unfair; ‘why has this happened?’ is a common thought.

It is common to mull over the circumstances leading up to the crash and wonder if you, or others, could have done anything to stop it happening. ‘If only…’ is a usual and particularly painful thought process.

What you can do seek immediate support from the people around you

Many people find it difficult to share their feelings with others. However, sharing feelings does help, particularly with close family and friends who may be experiencing similar feelings.

Sometimes, family and friends find it challenging to share thoughts with each other because they are trying to be “strong” for each other, or for other reasons to do with their relationships with each other. However, mutual support can be very helpful, and stop you feeling a sense of isolation.

If you can’t share your thoughts with someone close to you, or you find that this doesn’t help, seek help from someone who can provide a confidential, listening ear and comfort you. This could be a local counsellor, doctor, teacher, spiritual leader, or some other responsible member of your community who you know and trust.

Crying often helps when talking about what you are going through. It is usually better to express your feelings than try to hold back tears.

I have very strong feelings

Sometimes, feelings experienced may be strong, and at times over-powering and exhausting.

Anger is a common feeling. It is common to feel angry if someone is being held responsible for the crash. It is common to feel angry with society for not treating road safety seriously enough. This can be particularly hard to bear if you are not used to feeling angry.

It is also common to feel angry at other people who say things that you rightly consider inappropriate or who even behave as if nothing has happened. (This is usually because they are afraid they may say the wrong thing.) You may feel that “nobody understands”.

Anxiety is another common feeling. It is common to feel worried and suffer feelings of panic. You may worry about the safety of yourself or other loved ones, particularly on the road but also generally. You may be scared about what the future may hold

Stresses previously taken as being part of life can sometimes become unbearable. You may get upset at small things as well as the big things. You may feel tense or restless. You may also find you forget things and have difficulty concentrating.

Some people feel as though the future is bleak. They feel there can’t ever be a time when it will be possible to feel happiness again. Plans for the future may be wrecked.

Some days may feel much worse than others. Some people feel like they are on a rollercoaster of emotions.

What you can do

Understand these feelings are normal, keep talking, and take your time

An important way to cope with such strong feelings is to understand they are symptoms resulting from what has happened. It is not your fault that you are feeling this way, and it is normal in the circumstances. These feelings are not part of your character, and, if you take care of yourself and seek support, they can subside over time and be replaced by more positive feelings.

Treat yourself to simple comforts that are likely to make you feel a tiny bit better or calmer. This could be as simple as a cup of tea, listening to calm music, or sitting in the sun for ten minutes.

Some people find that being creative helps them to be calm. For example, writing, drawing or mounting photographs can be positive, peaceful activities. Find something small to look forward to, such as a visit from a friend.

It is easier to make mistakes at times of severe stress. Take extra time and care if you or a loved one is driving, cooking, or doing other potentially dangerous jobs. Try to avoid making big, difficult decisions. Treat yourself gently.

For some people, it is tempting to resort to alcohol or illegal drugs. However, these are stimulants that do not help, and have damaging consequences. Tranquilisers prescribed by a doctor may be helpful in the short term but some can become addictive and are not a long term solution.

It can help to explain to other people how you are feeling so they are not surprised if you display these feelings around them. If you work, it can help to talk to your employer and colleagues. If you are at school, it can help to explain things to your teacher and friends. Enable these people to give you the time and space you deserve.

Information about Brake’s helpline services

Brake’s road crash victim services exist to help relieve the suffering and assist the recovery of people bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes to enable them to lead positive, healthy and fulfilling lives into the future.

You can read more about our service below. If you are a service user, or a professional who may have clients who could benefit from our services, and you would like further detail about any of the information below, please contact the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401 or helpline@brake.org.uk.

Aims:

  1. To support victims’ emotional recovery in order to enable them to feel valued, comforted and safe during a time when they are highly vulnerable.
  2. To provide information to facilitate victims’ understanding of often unfamiliar and complex procedures resulting from a crash, and to aid informed choices.
  3. To problem solve and to help to resolve difficulties, by talking through options and by offering and providing as necessary, advocacy relating to practical and procedural difficulties victims are facing, in order to help reduce the stresses that such issues can place on victims at the worst possible time.
  4. To help victims to identify and acknowledge any medium to long term psychological or physical symptoms, including trauma symptoms, from which they or their loved ones may be suffering and help them to seek and access appropriate assessments and treatment from the NHS and other sources to alleviate these symptoms.
  5. To facilitate access, where appropriate and where possible, to agencies and services which are able to provide face to face or specialist support which complements the support provided by Brake’s helpline and to signpost victims to relevant services and experts, nationally and locally, to assist in their overall recovery, and to help support their practical and emotional needs.
  6. To provide support and information to people caring for, and professionals working with, bereaved or injured road crash victims.

Quality standards: The Brake helpline provides high quality services for eligible road crash victims and will seek to maintain its accreditation via the Helplines Partnership’s Helplines Standard quality mark. Brake’s victim service standards are available here.

Service summary:

Brake’s quality accredited helpline provides needs-oriented emotional and practical support, advocacy, information and appropriate signposting/referral for bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims and the friends, family and professionals supporting them. The helpline provides a central point of contact to help guide road crash victims through the terrible shock and trauma caused by a crash and through the criminal justice and/or coroners systems, working in partnership with local and specialist agencies and services to facilitate and co-ordinate appropriate support to meet victims’ varied needs.

The helpline seeks to help victims feel supported, informed, valued and able to cope, emotionally and practically, in the immediate aftermath of a crash and as they adjust to their new reality. This is achieved through direct contact with victims themselves, through advocacy on their behalf as well as indirectly via sourcing support from other agencies and services as needed. Helpline assistance is also provided both through, and directly for, the friends, family, carers and professionals who are supporting eligible road crash victims if they require support in this role. Contacts with the helpline are confidential and the support provided is tailored to best meet the needs of each service user. Brake’s helpline support is not time limited, and victims can make contact at any point after a crash.

Brake’s helpline officers are highly trained and experienced support professionals working under expert supervision. As well as providing immediate and ongoing support and comfort, they can take on casework advocacy and research, get answers from officials on victims’ behalf, and provide reassurance, support and advice on getting specialist help with the trauma faced by road crash victims. Helpline officers can help to co-ordinate support provided by services with different specialisms, such as trauma therapy, legal support, bereavement counselling or group support, to ensure the diverse needs of road crash victims are met appropriately.

Helpline staff are trained in regional differences, such as legal procedures operating in the different UK countries and are experienced in sourcing local support for service users in any geographical area of the UK. Brake works in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to provide support where a road death has happened abroad. In these cases Brake helpline staff liaise with Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff as appropriate, and will endeavour to establish country specific information relevant to supporting affected users.

Areas of specialism and expertise in support provision:

Brake’s helpline officers provide individually tailored information, guidance and support on all the issues covered in Brake’s road crash support literature. In many of the topic areas covered by this literature, particularly those issues that most commonly arise as a direct result of a road crash, Brake’s helpline officers are trained experts with a high level of specialist knowledge and experience, and able to provide in-depth and expert support. There are other topic areas in this literature in which Brake’s helpline officers are equipped to provide initial information and guidance, but will then aim to signpost or refer service users to other agencies with greater expertise for more detailed assistance. Brake’s expert support will usually be offered alongside any support needed from other agencies or services, and advocacy with these agencies / services is provided as needed.

Channels of support provision and accessing the service:

Brake’s helpline service is provided via telephone and email channels. Information and guidance for victims is additionally provided via Brake’s road crash literature and the Brake website.

The telephone helpline service is a Freephone service accessed on 0808 8000 401. The email service is accessed by emailing helpline@brake.org.uk. Operating times for both channels are Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm. These times can occasionally alter due to unavoidable closure (eg. for staff training, sickness etc). Outside of these operating times a voicemail message on the helpline phone and an email bounce-back message provide service users with information about operating times and current expected response times.

Professionals, family and friends can make referrals to Brake’s helpline by making contact via the above channels and requesting that a helpline officer makes contact with a victim. Brake will only make contact with a victim if the person making the referral confirms that they have the victim’s permission to pass on contact details and that the victim is expecting Brake to make contact with them.

The helpline service is currently provided in English, and in addition there is limited availability of a direct translation service.

Services offered:

Within its areas of expertise, Brake offers a range of services (or types of support), tailored in each case to best meet the needs of service users. This includes a range of information provision and direct support, advocacy, signposting and referral to meet both emotional and practical support needs.

Response times:

Brake’s helpline aims to answer immediately all calls made to the helpline within its operating times of 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday, however sometimes this is not possible (eg. when all lines are busy) and callers will then hear the outgoing Brake helpline voicemail message, which clearly states the current expected response time within which a helpline officer will return their call (if the caller leaves a message). This message is also heard by anyone calling the helpline outside of helpline operating times.

All emails sent to the helpline inbox trigger an automatic ‘bounce-back’ reply which clearly states the current expected response time within which a helpline officer will reply in person to their email or contact them via phone (if this has been requested).

The usual helpline response time for messages, emails and referrals received is one working day.

Meeting minutes: Ministry of Justice Victims and Witnesses Unit

8 September 2011

Present:

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake (JT)
Richard Mason,Deputy Director, Victims and Witnesses, Ministry of Justice (RM)
Alpa Panchal,Victims and Witnesses (AP)

JT provided a summary of Brake’s support services for bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims, which are part-funded by the MoJ:
- Brake’s literature, which offers practical and procedural information as well as emotional comfort. It includes packs for families bereaved by road death handed to families by police immediately following all fatal crashes (fully funded by MoJ), plus a range of specialist literature, including books for bereaved children and serious injury victims (not MoJ funded);
- Brake’s helpline, part-funded by MoJ, which provides practical and procedural information, ‘listening-ear’ emotional support, advocacy, phone contact with other victims, referral to services provided by others (such as peer support sessions), and which can deploy locally operating support workers (not employed by Brake but who sign our code of conduct)
- Brake’s professional services sharing best practice, which includes seminars on child bereavement and seminars and training for traffic FLOs.

JT explained how Brake’s helpline is being significantly developed using MoJ funding, in terms of capacity and the range and quality of support it provides. Brake is working with ACPO to encourage police FLOs to refer to the helpline, aiming to achieve a situation where all FLOs explain the helpline and the support it provides at the same time as providing the literature – so all bereaved crash victims are automatically offered this support.

JT explained Brake is keen to hear the results of the evaluation currently underway of Victim Support’s Homicide Service, including its success in benefitting victims and costs per bereaved family. Brake notes that Victims' Commissioner Louise Casey’s report recommends that victims of culpable road death receive support that is on a par with the Homicide Service, i.e. face-to-face, professionally provided support, funded by government. Brake is therefore keen to apply lessons from the Homicide Service to its work considering how the needs of bereaved road crash victims may be comprehensively met in the future.

RM confirmed that the Homicide Service evaluation is likely to be published in November.

JT stated that Brake wholeheartedly welcomed Louise Casey’s recommendation that the gap in support for culpable road death victims be filled, and recognition that these victims suffer similarly to homicide victims.

JT outlined the difficulties created for support providers by the distinction between culpable and non-culpable road death victims, and the fact that only support for the former group can be funded by the MoJ. JT pointed out that all road death victims are considered victims of culpable road death at the start of their bereavement (since all fatal road crashes are followed by police investigation, with a presumption that a crime has occurred until shown otherwise). Although in many cases there will be a criminal prosecution (about 500 of which are successful each year), there will be many more cases (number unknown) where criminal activity has occurred yet no criminal prosecution will take place due to the person who has committed the crime being killed as a result. In other cases, where no criminal activity has occurred, it remains the case that the family will suffer terribly due to a sudden, violent, man-made death, in these cases resulting from a failure of government in providing a safe road network. Brake therefore believes that all bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims should be able to access government-funded support. But currently these latter two groups (where a crime was committed by the person killed, and where no crime was committed) are not catered for in government funding, meaning support providers could be put in a position of having to turn away victims at the point where it is established no criminal proceedings will take place – regardless of their extreme distress and support needs. Brake believes this must be addressed in the forthcoming victims strategy.

RM confirmed that there will be a full consultation on the new victims strategy towards the end of this year.

JT explained that Brake continues to be unable to establish the extent to which Victim Support is engaged in supporting road crash victims.

JT queried how the extra £500k funding for support for victims of crime (announced by Ken Clarke in July) is being allocated. AP explained that most if not all of this funding is being allocated to supporting homicide victims, including appointing five new case workers.

JT outlined some key areas of support work in relation to road crash victims that would benefit from government funding, should any be available. This includes Brake’s work in supporting bereaved children, which includes a highly acclaimed and thoroughly researched book for children and their carers. It would also be beneficial to commission research into the needs of bereaved road crash victims and how these are best met. This would be invaluable in helping us to understand how we can best (and most cost-effectively) plug the support gap. 

My symptoms are extreme and not going away

Some people suffer extreme emotional symptoms and / or physical symptoms. This includes flashbacks, when you feel the crash is happening again, or extremely vivid and scary thoughts and dreams. Other people suffer suicidal feelings on a regular basis.

Physical symptoms resulting from emotional stress include problems eating, problems sleeping, or aches and pains not related to any injury. Some people develop problems such as a stutter, or suffer from shaking limbs, or develop a phobia, such as an inability to leave the house. Other people may struggle to get out of bed and do day-to-day tasks due to emotional upset.

Such symptoms usually fade away with support and care, but sometimes they don’t. If your symptoms are still extreme and have been continuing for more than a month, it is important to seek professional help.

What you can do

Seek professional help

Usually, appropriate treatment is regular sessions of confidential counselling, over many weeks, with an appropriately qualified counsellor who is experienced in helping people who have suffered a traumatic event. Often this counselling is referred to as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This kind of counselling is appropriate whether you are an adult or a child.

You may find that hospital staff or your GP offer you the chance to see a counsellor for free. It is, however, important to ensure they are offering you a service provided by a counsellor who is appropriately qualified and experienced, and also is available soon. It is not a good idea to delay getting this support, or to agree to support from someone who is not qualified or experienced in treating people who have suffered a major traumatic event.

The NHS often has waiting lists; but your needs are important, now. Ask your GP to ensure you are seen as soon as possible. If you think you need help seeking the right support, quickly, call the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401. Brake can liaise, on your behalf, with medical practitioners to seek the support you need.

It is usually appropriate that, firstly, you have your symptoms identified and assessed. This may result in you being diagnosed as suffering from a condition such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression. NHS guidelines on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guideline no. 26) can be viewed at www.nice.org.uk.

Being diagnosed with a condition does not mean you are a weak person. Such conditions are normal following a traumatic event, and it is possible to treat these conditions successfully. This treatment is likely to include at least ten counselling sessions, and often more. Drug treatments can help some people but are not recommended by the NHS as preferable to talk-based therapy.

If you cannot obtain help quickly through the NHS, you may wish to consider paying for private treatment. Sometimes this is possible to fund as part of a claim for compensation.

Lists of providers of therapists who can assess your needs, some through the NHS, some privately, are available from the following organisations:

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy

United Kingdom Psychological Trauma Society

If you are feeling suicidal, call The Samaritanson 116 123. The Samaritans is a counselling line, open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, for anyone in need. It is staffed by trained volunteers. You can also email jo@samaritans.org

Roads to Justice: calls to government

1. Introduce tougher charges and penalties for driving offences

Crackdown HandcuffsWe need tougher charges and penalties to deter dangerous behaviour, reflect the suffering caused, and provide justice for victim families. Brake wants to see:

 

  • revised charges to stop drivers being let off on lesser 'careless' driving charges;
  • much stiffer penalties for hit-and-run and disqualified drivers;
  • stronger sentencing guidelines, allowing judges to hand out maximum sentences in the most serious cases.

2. Invest in road-traffic police

policetartan.svgLaw-breaking drivers must know they will be caught: we need to send out a message that dangerous driving, like speeding or using a mobile phone at the wheel, is a serious crime.

We need well-resourced, effective and comprehensive road-traffic policing. Brake asks the government to make road-traffic policing a high investment priority.

3. Provide specialist support for suffering families

HELPumbrellaBrake supports bereaved and seriously injured crash victims through a national helpline and support packs, part-funded by government. But this remains a grossly under-funded area, with support services for road crash victims receiving only a tiny fraction of the national victim support budget, despite the large number of families who suffer life-changing trauma through road death and injury. 

We urge the government to increase investment in specialist victim support, to be offered automatically and promptly to all families bereaved and seriously injured by road crashes.

 

Find out more

Read the real-life experiences of bereaved familes

Read Brake’s Factcheck page on Charges and penalties

Learn more about Brake's support services for road crash victims

Write to your MP

Sign our petition

 

Return to our Roads to Justice campaign page