Our Grief Support Workers

Balloons provides grief support to children, young people and their families before an expected death, or following the death of someone significant in their lives.

As part of our support, we provide a free 1:1 service for children and young people aged between 5 and 25 who are affected by bereavement.  Support sessions are carried out by a professional, multi-skilled team of staff and trained volunteers. Balloons Grief Support Workers provide a proficient and flexible programme of support, with sessions usually taking place in schools and colleges, and a small number of cases being based elsewhere (e.g. in the home or other suitable setting).

The Balloons philosophy is to advocate the importance of openness, truthfulness and involvement around death to help families to function to their best ability.

Become a Balloons Volunteer

If you would you like to make a difference to the lives of bereaved children and young people and are you available to volunteer during school hours then we’d love to hear from you.  We are looking for recruits to join our 2022 training programme which will run September to November (deadline for applications is 29th July 2022).  Each course runs a day a week over 10 weeks, including a half day of Safeguarding Training.

If you are interested in applying to train as a volunteer Grief Support Worker please contact us on 01392 826064 or email donnajames@balloonscharity.co.uk for more details and an application pack.

What personal qualities do I need to be a GSW?

  • Be an excellent listener
  • Have good organisational skills
  • Have great communication skills and empathy
  • Be patient and non-judgemental
  • Have a good level of self-awareness
  • Be reflective
  • Be interested in supporting and promoting the health and wellbeing of bereaved children and young people
  • Be keen to learn about how children and young people process grief

What time commitment will I need to give to be a GSW?

  • You will need to be available during school hours for a morning or afternoon each week in order to provide the 1:1 sessions to children and young people. Each session lasts about an hour and you need to allow for travel to and from schools as well as time to prepare for each session and to write up and send in notes afterwards.
  • You will also need to be available for monthly team meetings which are held at various times during office hours and occasionally evenings. We expect GSWs to attend at least 3 of these each year.
  • In order to be the best GSW you can be, we offer occasional additional training opportunities, and these take place during office hours.


Here are just a few of our volunteers currently doing Grief Support work for Balloons:

Mary Goodwill

I’m Mary and I wanted to become a GSW for Balloons because I lost my parents when I was a young person and there was no-one out there to support me and help build my resilience at the time. I want to be that person who a child or young person can talk to about things that really hurt and say it’s ok to feel that way, let’s think of some ways that might help. Balloons have been amazing at giving me the confidence and support in their training and organisation to do just that.

Jodie White

I absolutely love being a volunteer for Balloons. Having been a teacher since 2001, I have experienced the massive need for this kind of work with children and young people. I have always wanted to follow my Mum’s footsteps in volunteering and to now be able to do this for a charity as important as Balloons is a real privilege. It’s just brilliant to witness the positive changes in the children and young people we work with and to feel that we can make such a difference to their lives.

Isy Doman

I have been a Grief Support Worker with Balloons now for 18 months. Originally, I was recommended to Balloons from an existing volunteer, who thought I would enjoy it. She briefly told me what the role entailed, and I thought this was something I would feel very comfortable with. From there I had an interview, fantastic training and then took my first case. I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Working with the young people has been so rewarding and so positive, I believe we do make a difference. I am also very impressed with the organisation and staff, they are extremely professional whilst still remaining warm, sincere and friendly and are always available for advice, however small it might be!

GSW Training

Balloons Grief Support Workers are all trained in-house for one day a week over approximately eight weeks. This training includes theory, practical ideas, policies, procedures and ‘paperwork’ needed to carry out the role. 

All GSWs are given full support for their role which includes casework supervision (in person and by telephone or email), regular monthly team meetings and further training opportunities. All Balloons volunteers are actively encouraged to share ideas in a supportive environment.