A NEW service is being set up by Dorset Coroner's Court to help bereaved families, witnesses and others attending Bournemouth inquests.

The Coroner's Court Support Service (CCSS) charity, launched in 2003, provided assistance to 70 courts across 45 coronial areas in 2018/19.

Senior Dorset Coroner Rachael Griffin said: "We are looking forward to working with the volunteers from the CCSS who will offer invaluable support to all those who attend inquest hearings, especially the bereaved family and friends.

"The volunteers will provide guidance and help to those who need it at the difficult time following the loss of their loved one.”

Dorset Coroner's Court had 3,461 deaths referred to them in 2018/19 and completed 445 inquests during the year.

CCSS director Beverley Radcliffe said: “Each person is affected by bereavement in their own individual way and, as a volunteer, you really have to quickly assess what their needs are and respond to them.

“Some people want emotional support and the volunteer will be empathic and supportive, while other people want to be given information in which case the volunteer will explain the process and procedures of attending the inquest.

"Before the inquest starts the volunteer can show people the courtroom if the room is available, so they can see the layout, where people will sit and what their role will be during the hearing.

"When an inquest happens they might have been given information and read reports but actually hearing it can be quite distressing."

Volunteers are now being recruited for Dorset Coroner's Court.

Beverley said: "The first time you have to go into a courtroom can be very daunting, let alone if it is something as distressing as an inquest. It is really important that bereaved family members feel they have taken part in the proceedings rather than it happening around them, as this is their opportunity to find the answers, they might need in determining what happened when their loved one died.

"Generally, people are unaware that they may be asked to attend an inquest at a coroner’s court if they have witnessed a sudden, unexpected or unexplained death of either a family member or even a stranger.

"To have to attend an inquest is an additional burden to the grieving process and the CCSS volunteers are there to help during the inquest itself and have supported thousands of bereaved families, witnesses and others.”

Anyone interested in the CCSS volunteer role should request an application pack via info@ccsupport.org.uk or by calling 07534 149 962.

Visit www.coronerscourtssupportservice.org.uk for further information.

Applications will open from February 2020 and interviews will be held February and March 2020.

The closing date for applications will be March 2020 and may close early if numbers of applications are reached before this date.

Three consecutive days of Training will be confirmed in April/May 2020.