Charity Widowed & Young offers unconditional support to the bereaved
Death, particularly when it occurs in the young, is something that most people struggle to talk about. The charity WAY Widowed & Young – with their peer-to-peer support network – gives those widowed young unconditional support from those who are able to truly understand what it is like to lose a partner when they are still young.
Shockingly, there are around 100,000 men and women in the UK widowed under the age of 50. Journalist Caroline Sarll’s sister was widowed at the age of 35 and remembering how her mother had been a young widow in the 1960s, Caroline decided to launch WAY in 1997. Caroline was horrified to discover that in the 25 years since her father’s death, there was still no support offered specifically to young widows and widowers. So WAY was founded as a support group for people under 50 years of age whose partner has died.
From small beginnings
The beginning of WAY was small. The first meeting took place in Cardiff and attracted around 30 people. Today, WAY has members throughout the British Isles with over 2,000 young widowed men and women benefiting from the support it offers.
WAY is run by volunteers who are members of the charity themselves and has local co-ordinators across the UK. When a new member joins WAY, the area co-ordinator is notified and makes initial contact. Just having someone to talk to who has had a similar experience can be incredibly reassuring and the peer-to-peer support enables the bereaved to air their concerns as well as help to banish some of the loneliness and feelings of isolation that come hand-in-hand with bereavement.
Through the local groups and national events, there are lots of opportunities for members to get together with others as frequently or as infrequently as they wish. It can be desperately hard to suddenly find yourself alone and dealing with loneliness after being part of a couple. Many people find that WAY helps them to rebuild their social life after the loss of their partner.
Something for everyone
All WAY’s events are accessible and fully inclusive. Events include evening meals every few weeks, group picnics, visits to the beach and a “have a go” day where members are encouraged to try something new and creative. WAY volunteers also organise holidays and weekends away and the charity’s non-judgemental all-inclusive ethos is a marvellous support to those who find themselves bereaved unexpectedly young.
In addition to the peer-to-peer support system, WAY also offers the chance to chat to other members online through their members’ only website, as well as practical advice through the website, quarterly newsletters and monthly e-newsletters that are sent to Widowed & Young members.
WAY receives no government or lottery funding and so all their income comes from donations and the nominal annual subscription fee they request from members.
WAY can help people coping with the loneliness and challenges of losing their partner. To find out more, to join or donate, contact WAY.