The ABC Course – What to Expect


A phrase we often hear on the course is “This is not what I expected”. Here we try to give you a clear idea of what the course is like and what will be expected of you in order to participate fully on the course.  We encourage you to take time to consider all of the points below and decide if this is something you really want to undertake at this moment in your life.

You will be learning a new role

Many trainees bring lots of skills to the course, some of which may or may not be useful. More often than not, trainees find that they have to try really hard to put their existing skills to one side. They are possibly used to fixing problems, offering solutions, guiding people or making them feel better. All valuable skills in so many ways, but not in the role of a bereavement support worker. It’s very common that on the first day, trainees feel very de-skilled as they suddenly realise that they have a lot to learn (or unlearn)!


The aim of the training is to teach you a new role, one which you will have probably not experienced before. It is a role where you truly listen and accept wherever a grieving person is with their grief. It is a role that doesn’t require you to question, analyse, follow a theory or lead the client towards a solution. In short, it requires you to just be with a client rather than do anything. This concept is central to bereavement support.


The training may impact on you emotionally

Firstly you will inevitably become more aware of how you truly interact with people. This can be quite an eye opener for some trainees and there are often changes in their personal lives as a result. So expect to learn about yourself and expect to maybe change as a person. Secondly the course material is difficult. Trainees can find some of the topics emotionally draining and challenging, which is all part of the learning journey, and most trainees see this process as valuable. Finally you will be regularly practicing your skills and receiving feedback which, for some, can be a difficult experience. We expect you to receive feedback in a mature manner. This means seeing it as an aid to your development and an essential part of your volunteering journey, rather than as a criticism.


Trainees therefore need to be in a good place emotionally to undertake this course, with no unresolved grief and no major current emotional issues. We strongly recommend that you do not undertake this course if there are other major sources of stress in your life, such as moving house or starting a new job. During the time that you are attending the course, we advise that you keep your evenings light, so that you have the space to reflect and recharge if necessary. Ultimately the work that you will be doing as a volunteer is full of emotion so the course has to prepare you for that!


There is some extra work involved

In addition to attending the days you will be required to complete a course portfolio. This will contain a journal and some extra work for you to complete in your own time. You will also be required to read a book, poem, newspaper article and undertake some internet research. Therefore, you will need to devote a few hours a week to completing this work. You will be expected to hand in some of this work as the course progresses so that the trainers can give you guidance. There is no exam or test at the end of the course, the assessment is based on your portfolio and your contributions on the course.



It is expected that trainees will behave in an appropriate manner on the course. This means being polite and respectful to everyone involved with the course. It means engaging with the course activities and learning. You are expected to be on time for the training sessions as keeping time boundaries is an essential part of working with emotionally fragile people.


Probationary Period and changing your mind

Trainees are on probation throughout the course and their behaviour and emotional safety will be monitored at all times. The trainers reserve the right to remove a volunteer from the course and are under no obligation to give explanations though where possible this should be the normal practice. Consideration should be given as to whether another volunteer role may be appropriate. If requested and considered appropriate,  trainees should be given the opportunity of a meeting to discuss  the matter further. You may, after starting the course, feel that you have made the wrong decision. Trainees who decide to leave the course on the first week will be given a full refund. After this date only a pro rata amount can be refunded.


What Trainees Say About The Course


I am really glad I attended the Cruse Bereavement volunteer training course. The trainers are top quality. They make the sessions really interesting, imaginative and inclusive.  You don't just learn about the bereavement process and supporting others either; you learn about yourself too. Even if you decide at the end of the course that volunteering is not your cup of tea, I guarantee you will have no regrets about attending. 

Gerry Francis


The training at Cruse has been an enlightening experience for me. The methods used by both my trainers I felt were sometimes a little unorthodox but was absolutely inspiring and produced the desired effect.  I can say that I have learnt so much and picked up many useful interactive skills.  The course has helped me become so self aware that I find I am constantly stopping to reassess things over and over again.  The trainers have brought about an awareness/learning that will continue forever, and I am privileged to have been selected to do the course.

Satya Sandhu, Solihull College


I attended this course 2 years ago, this course can not be recommend highly enough. The help and support I was given on this course was absolutely brilliant. My course tutor's brought the course to life and made me look at things in a different way, they knew I didn't have a lot of confidence in myself but they nurtured and supported me all the way along and gave me the confidence I needed to pass the course. I can not recommend it highly enough, and what I took away from it gave me a different way of look at things in my working life - TRY IT!

Geraldine Spink, Carer organisation


Cruse Birmingham Training has proved invaluable - not just in my clinical placement with clients but I also incorporate many aspects of the overall experience into my on-going counselling training which, in five years strangely has never encompassed bereavement training. The training was up to date, useful and delivered with an integrity that much of counselling training sadly lacks. I still draw on many aspects of the course and it's delivery for inspiration in my own personal bereavement issues, which, aren't lessened in terms of loss, but maybe traversed with a depth that promotes healing as opposed to avoidance.

Margretta Finnegan