The model of a STAR Bereavement Peer-Support Group was initiated and set up, in October 2019, using an Asset-based Community Development approach (ABCD). A Community Development Practitioner / Project Lead reached out to a wide range of local residents in Stockwood, Bristol. Local residents expressed an interest and came together to form a community group and were empowered to lay strong foundations to make the model self-sustainable. The group became known as STAR (Share, Talk & Remember).
The Stockwood STAR was recognised, by so many, as a fantastic community asset giving added value to public health and providing an opportunity for local people to support each other in their own community. The benefits for everyone involved were and continue to be amazing!
Rationale for Sharing the STAR Model
Based on the success of the Stockwood STAR group, Bristol Ageing Better (BAB) (under the umbrella of Age UK Bristol) funded the Community Development Worker & Freelance Trainer, Jan Perry, to design a training programme to share this model with those who wish to set up their own community-led STAR group in their local neighbourhood. Over a 6 month period 24 delegates, across Bristol, completed the STAR ‘Training the Trainers’ Course; despite the challenges of the pandemic lock-down, some delegates began developing their own STAR Bereavement Peer Support Group, 2 of which are now currently running their support service in their local community
And things began to develop...
Due to some fantastic working partnerships (co-production at its finest!), word of the STAR initiative spread far and wide and BAB (under the umbrellas of Age UK Bristol) were successful in gaining recognition & funding from the Clinical Commisioning Group (CCG) to further cascade the training across the Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Locality.
Over a short period of time, and after attentive negotiation between an array of supportive organisations, a marketing and support structure organically developed; many establishments helped to promote the STAR Training the Trainers programme - the results were amazing!
Through social media and an abundance of virtual networking meetings, the word of STAR got out there! Three rounds of training were set up and each event was marketed on Eventbrite (event management and ticketing website) to receive bookings. From April - October 2021 many expressed an interest in doing the training, 79 of whom booked a place and 64 delegates actually completed the training!
The feedback from the training was wonderful! Many delegates expressed motivation and determination to apply their knowledge and work toward reaching out into their community to connect with others to initiate a STAR Bereavement Peer Support Group in their neighbourhood.
STARs Connecting Network...
Throughout the training, delegates were encouraged to connect and establish support networks within their locality; on one occasion it was apparent that 6 people lived within a a few miles radius of each other, all of whom were aiming to set up a STAR group in their neighborhood - they joined forces and established a great work partnership to set up a service on common ground.
Bi-monthly STARS Connecting Network meetings began and prove to be paramount. Everyone who completed the training is invited to attend the meetings and given the opportunity to share information about any challenges, barriers, any successes, and offer support to each other.
Within an 18 month period, 88 people, within Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) completed the STAR Training the Trainers course, all of which are connected to the STARs Connecting Network.
Things are gradually developing and we see our hopes coming to fruition as new STAR Bereavement Peer Support Groups emerge in different neighbourhoods.