A NEW service has been launched to help people struggling with grief and loss.

Free practical and emotional support is being offered, online and over the phone.

The service was commissioned by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, which serves an area including Bradford district and Craven.

Providing a first point of contact for people suffering from any form of grief, it can also help anybody worried about losing someone or feeling affected by the volume of deaths across the country in recent months.

People can self-refer or may be referred through agencies such as the police, hospital bereavement teams, funeral directors, GPs, or community or faith organisations.

Help is available seven days a week, between 8am and 8pm, at griefandlosswyh.co.uk – where there is a live chat facility – or by calling 0808 196 3833.

Behind the delivery of the project are West Yorkshire and Harrogate Independent Hospices Consortium, Bradford Bereavement Services and Leeds Mind.

Dr Sarah Munro, for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, said: “It is sadly the case that many more people have suffered loss and grief throughout the past few months.

“This can be made more distressing due to the restrictions that have been in place, reducing access to the practical and emotional support we might normally receive from family and friends.

“That is why this additional service is so important – and what makes it unique is the relationships it will have with specialist local organisations. The service will relieve some of the pressure on valued local support networks and in doing so enable more people to get help with their grief and loss at a time when they need it.”

Lucy Hancock, operations director with Leeds Mind, said the charity was delighted to be involved in the initiative.

She added: “The challenges of the last few months have generated many instances of grief and loss and it is vitally important that people are supported through these experiences.

“We’re proud to be working in partnership on this project, to ensure both practical and emotional support is available as we emerge from this strange period.”