My background is nursing, and for 25years I worked on an acute psychiatric unit in Liverpool. On February 14th 1992 my whole world fell apart when my beloved 25year old son Alan was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack.
After Alan's murder, in spite of a loving family and wonderful friends, I still felt isolated and alone with my grief. What no one else knows is the appalling weight of the thing I was carrying in my mind. I was unable to express my deepest fears and feelings to my loved ones for fear of inflicting further pain upon them. Then, quite by chance, I met another mother who had also lost her son in similar circumstances.
I cannot express the relief I felt when talking to this lady, she was someone who could understand just how I was feeling. Sadly, here was someone who felt the same pain as I did and understood every emotion I was going through. I didn't need to explain to her how I was feeling, she just knew. That was the beginning of peer support for me, and it was from that moment that I realised how important it was for somebody to say "I understand" and know they meant it.
It was 18months after Alan was murdered that I became involved with SAMM. From that time onwards I have had much valuable advice and support which has sustained me over the years. It has enabled me to become a volunteer, then a trustee and since 2005 I have been chair of the organisation. Over the years I have been instrumental in developing local groups, have spoken at conferences to promote the work of SAMM and given insight and recognition of the bereaved victims, I have addressed seminars and spoken about the lack of support for bereaved children (the forgotten victims). I became involved in the training for probation, Prison services, CPS, and family Liaison officers in England and Wales. This training extends to many other professional agencies, giving them firsthand experience of the terrible ordeal victim families and friends have had to endure as a result of homicide.
My work also includes being part of a specifically trained team of volunteers who offer support to bereaved families and friends, by telephone contact, one-to-one support, or support via a secure "on-line" forum.
Peer support has given me the strength to continue with the vital work carried out by SAMM. In return I am now able to share some of that incredible support I received with those who are bereaved and looking to SAMM for help, comfort and understanding.
I remember only too well the long dark lonely days after Alan was murdered. Without the wonderful people in SAMM I have met over the years who although bereaved themselves have given me encouragement, comfort and hope for the future. Their gentle guidance and support gave me the insight to see that I can, and will survive the grieving and the loss of my beloved son
Following my second attendance at the SAMM AGM after my daughter's murder, I was invited to think about becoming a Trustee. Following my hard experiences of sorting my daughters affairs I felt I would like to assist other folk in their times of desperate need in any way I could. By becoming a trustee it has given me the opportunity to carry this out.
The training days I have attended have helped me to understand the sweeping emotions I have experienced and helped me to come to terms with my changed life.
I have assisted at several retreats, listening, organising games or some fun activity, , witnessing the change in our members from arrival to departure brings much satisfaction. Being in the company of other bereaved folk I find comforting, we are able to cry and laugh without any embarrassment, just understanding.
Living in the South I have been able to meet other folk who live locally and who have now become friends
I am Avi and have been a member of SAMM since soon after the murder of Julian Sanders, my stepson in 2000. I became a Trustee in 2001 and in recent years have also been treasurer of SAMM. I live and work in Shropshire as a registered chiropractor.
I joined SAMM National in February 2010 after the traumatic effects of my mums horrific death!
I had suffered the trauma for 33 years! This particular day Feb 8th 2010 I came across the details of SAMM National and I rang the Helpline number!
Due to this, I joined the SAMM Forum where I was able to write my sadness down in order for others, to read and reply, if they so wished! This has become a very "close friend" of mine almost a "lifeline" in many ways! I have made endless friends, who I know.... will always be very close to me!! Having others to express your feelings too "happy or sad", are all part of the recovery programme! I have never looked back since! The support and endless understanding is on-going, throughout the Forum! It is private, safe and secure with moderators checking "all is well"!
Thank you SAMM National for the opportunity of "opening up" sharing my sadness which has given me a platform, whereby, I can share my pain and suffering with others that are feeling just like me!!
I am the son of Carol, who was tragically taken away in 1976 when I was 9 years old. I first heard about SAMM in 1998, when I became a member of SAMM. In 2010, I went on my first retreat with SAMM, and I was soon talking to others that had been through the same thing as me.
It felt a huge relief that I was not being judged, but I was talking to other people who listened. I could have a cry, and it felt normal.
SAMM has helped me a lot, and helping others helps me
My name is Trisha Bergan, I'm a retired Nurse, my son was murdered 9 years ago and I became a member of SAMM 8 years ago and I have been a trustee for 4 years now.
SAMM has helped me to become a stronger person, and just listening to other members who have lost loved ones makes me realise I'm not alone. With SAMM people I can cry and not feel silly or ashamed.
As a trustee I attend meetings, go to conferences, attend the retreats where I do manicures. I raise funds, and deal with the media especially in the Midlands area. I go in to schools, colleges, young offenders
I lost my son Lee who was 36 years old to Murder in 2002 and since joining SAMM have received so much help and support and now feel in a good place and ready to give something back to SAMM the organisation and to our many members and to help when and where I can, especially now after retiring and can devote much more time.
I became a Trustee of SAMM National in October 2013. I have held various roles while bringing up my 3 children including volunteer and the running off a Gingerbread Welfare and Advice Office.
Once my children were old enough for me to work full time I started work in the caring profession, firstly as a Nursing Assistant in a Nursing Home in 1980, after that various caring jobs including Home care, night work in Residential, Auxiliary Nurse in the Hospital Theatres, Private care then finally as Care Manager in a Residential Home working my way up to Deputy Manager, I was at the Home for nearly 20 years, I retired from my post as Deputy Manager in December 2010.
I have always had very good listening skills, empathy and consideration for others which was much needed in my work.
I have now been a member of SAMM since approximately 2006 and have attended all the AGM's and the Memorial Services @ St Martin in the Field since I joined.
I also joined the forum in March 2010 and have tried to be as supportive as I can since joining.
I have attended training sessions over the years that I have been a member, the last one being at the beginning of this year and have been a support volunteer on the forum since then.
I joined SAMM in 2010 after my son Daniel was shot and killed in November 2009.
My first experience of SAMM was to call and speak to Marie. Marie told me about the forum which helped me during the lonely times and through my sleepless nights. I read about other peoples’ experiences and found I had found someone who could identify with my own feelings.
I am a Beauty Therapist and my therapies help me relax and speak to people about everyday things.
I attended a retreat which was a great experience under the circumstances. It was empowering a little sad at times when I thought of what brought us all there.
I became a trustee in 2013 and I feel privileged to be able to work with this charity.
My background is nursing and I worked for many years with cancer patients as a clinical nurse specialist in oncology within the NHS. I became interested in bereavement issues and was for some time a Cruse bereavement counsellor. I also worked for 4 years in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool.
After the death of our 22 year old daughter Avril, I became involved with The Compassionate Friends (TCF) and ran a TCF group for bereaved parents for many years. About 6 years after Avril's death our 12 week old grandson died in my arms and the combination of these two deaths plus my many years experience working with bereaved people led me to leave the health service and join SAMM.
I have been with SAMM since 1999 and as well as being the CEO and managing the charity with the help of the trustees and other staff members, I also oversee all the training days for the SAMM volunteers. In addition to this a very important part of my work is to help with training for police Family Liaison Officer, Detectives, Probation officers, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and many other agencies who come into contact with people bereaved through murder or manslaughter.
Victims should be Victims' as follows I have served on many national committees including three years on the Victims' Advisory panel (VAP). This committee was set up to advise the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and other senior ministers on issues related to victims of crime and secondary victims of homicide. I also served on the working party that looked into the victims advocate scheme.
In addition I have presented papers to many conferences and have delivered presentations to the Home Office, Foreign & Commonwealth Office staff.
On leaving school, I was working for a pensions department of a large organisation. I remained there for almost 25 years and after I took voluntary retirement, I looked after my nephew whilst his mum went back to work.
During 2011, I joined SAMM and whilst I personally have not been bereaved by homicide, working closely with the Chair, Trustees and members, I believe that I have an insight of what they have gone through. The major part of my job is working with new members, sending out the information packs, newsletters and keeping all records secure and up todate.
I have a Masters in Art, Health and Well-being and during my studies I explored different therapeutic approaches to people’s well-being in relation to their physical and mental health. I also researched support systems necessary for people who have been both bereaved and traumatised. In addition, a major proportion of my studies also involved exploring the different forms of volunteering within various organisations.
The majority of my work has involved using art as a means for people to express themselves. It can provide a bridge or a talking point for subjects that can be difficult to instigate. My interest in bereavement issues began when I lost my sister suddenly at the age of twenty and also a baby boy several years later. Personal experience has also given me an insight into the shock and distress undergone by people especially in the cases of traumatic loss.
I also have a teaching background related to a variety of subjects including literacy, numeracy and life skills as well as the arts