Beds, Herts & Bucks

Milton Keynes Bereavement Service helped by Sainsbury's

A charity due to be axed following council cuts has been reprieved after a supermarket said it would raise funds.

The Milton Keynes Bereavement Service has been named as charity of the year 2011 by the town's Sainsbury's.

The supermarket will now hold events to raise money which will keep the service open for an extra 12 months.

The charity was due to close in 2012 after it had its £7,000 funding cut.

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Customers were asked to vote for their top good cause and the charity was picked as the winner from a shortlist of three after doing a short presentation in store.

Milton Keynes Bereavement Service is run by volunteers and has been supporting the local community through bereavement since 1979.

The volunteer counsellors receive out-of-pocket expenses and the charity has a few hours of paid secretarial support each week.

It has to apply annually for grant aid from Milton Keynes Council, which generally amounts to approximately 75% of its funding.

But it relies upon donations, fees for training and other one-off grants for the rest.

Jeni Pratt, from the charity, said: "We're really excited and would like to thank everyone in the community who voted for us."

'More secure'

Odette Mould, who lost her five-year-old son Harry in 2009, is one of those who has benefited from the counselling service after she initially looked for support for Harry's twin, Jessica.

"[Milton Keynes Bereavement Service] put a counsellor in touch with us who came round to see Jessica to discuss things with her and it made me feel more secure that there was someone there for Jessica to talk to.

"I do believe it helped her to have someone to talk to straight away, even if she doesn't remember it now."

Ms Mould said that she was "really pleased that the service will continue and continue to help other families".

"Their future is now secured for another year and hopefully as a result of that people will get to know who they are and other people will see that this is something that needs to continue," she said.

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