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Published: 01 June 2020

Sensitive support for grieving families

Kelly Howson, MySurrey Hive Student Experience Officer is providing sensitive support for grieving families.

Kelly Howson

As the Covid-19 pandemic began to spread and claim an increasing number of lives, Kelly Howson knew that she was equipped with vital care skills that would sadly be required during this difficult time and felt compelled to help.

Kelly joined the University Security team in 2015 and worked at a local funeral company on her days off. After her maternity leave, Kelly returned to Surrey and joined the MySurrey Hive Student Experience team full-time. As the pandemic spread, Kelly’s previous employer asked if she was able to help them. She knew that her old team at the funeral company would benefit from her support with their significantly increased work pressures and offered to return – while juggling motherhood and her commitment to her Hive role.

“I’m working long hours, but I’m really grateful to my colleagues who agreed my flexible working request, so that I can assist with funerals when required but still maintain my hours on the Student Experience team by working slightly different shift patterns.

“Dealing with families who have lost a loved one is very delicate. The sensitive nature of work, combined with the social distancing restrictions, would make it very hard for the funeral company to train new staff at this time, and I have the relevant skillset, so I wanted to help. I work out of a main hub in Camberley, with many branches attached, and my role includes high risk preparations for funeral services, as well as driving the limo and supporting families during the service. It can be emotionally challenging but I have learnt how to try to distance myself.”

At Surrey, Kelly is supporting our students who may wish to submit an application to the Student Hardship Fund.

“We have seen a rise in applications as lots of students are struggling financially, for many reasons, so I do whatever I can to help students, and give them guidance and support. Dealing with a challenging situation, such as financial worries or grief, is incredibly hard but I hope that I can help people through their difficulties. I just treat others how I would like to be treated if I found myself in their situation.”

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