Pontefract woman creates town’s first bereavement support group in memory of her father

After her father passed away, Mel Oates struggled to cope.

Mel and her mother, Sue, pictured outside the Ian Oates Room in Pontefract Conservative Club
Mel and her mother, Sue, pictured outside the Ian Oates Room in Pontefract Conservative Club

After her father passed away, Mel Oates struggled to cope.

Noticing there was limited help and support available in the town, she took it upon herself to create a support group for those, like herself, dealing with grief.

The first session of the group was held last week at Pontefract Conservative Club, where Mel's father was a trustee for over 20 years.

Mel Oates and her late father, Ian.

Around 18 people visited the group, held in the ‘Ian Oates’ room, named after Mel’s late father.

Mel said: “After my father died suddenly and unexpectedly last August, it came as a total shock and the reality is that six months on, I am still reeling and living in a nightmare, suffering horrendous flashbacks, night terrors, anxiety and depression.

"I was the only person present with my dad until help finally arrived.

“It’s something that I am still really struggling with and though I have attended counselling a few times, I feel that hasn’t worked for me."

The group meets at Pontefract Conservative Club in the Ian Oates Room on the first Wednesday of every month to comfort, support, talk and listen to each other from 7pm onward.

Mel said the group came as a result of the overwhelming number of comments and private messages she received in response to a post she put on Facebook.

She said: "I quickly realised that there was a real need for an informal bereavement support group, where its members could meet once a month to chat and offer support each other.”

Staff at the conservative club and Mel’s mother, Sue, helped her set up the group.

Sue said: “It’s not an easy time for anyone, Mel has made an informal group that doesn’t require a fee, it’s just nice for people to be able to come and support each other.”

The group meets at Pontefract Conservative Club, in the Ian Oates Room, on the first Wednesday of every month from 7pm, and offers comfort and support as well as somewhere where people can talk and listen to each other in their time of need.

Mel said; “I would like to stress that the group is not a counselling service, it’s an open, kind, warm and friendly group, allowing anyone who feels that they need support to drop in at any point for a chat, enjoy a cuppa, and meet people in similar situations.

“Above all, we would like people to know that “It’s OK not to be OK.

"We are all there to show we care and are there to support each other in any way that we can.”

Mel added: “I would just like to thank the Pontefract Conservative Club for providing us with the room at the club every month.

“I would also like to thank the Pontefract Co-Op Funeral Services as well as Louise Burley, the Humanist, who supported my family and gave my Dad the most personalised and befitting funeral service."

To join the Pontefract Bereavement Support Facebook group: click here