Volunteer shortage could mean cancellation of Mount Forest Living with Loss program


Volunteer shortage could mean cancellation of Mount Forest Living with Loss program

When grieving the death of a loved one, being in a group with people who understand and empathize can have incredible healing power. Unfortunately, individuals attending a grief support program in Mount Forest may no longer have this group to turn to if an urgent need for peer facilitators isn’t met.

“As a peer support organization, we rely on volunteers who are bereaved themselves to run our programs,” says Jaime Bickerton, Executive Director of Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region (BFO-MR). “Since our Living with Loss program launched in Mount Forest in 2016, we have had a dedicated group of volunteers to lead this group. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case and if we aren’t successful in recruiting new volunteers, we fear we may have to cancel the program in this community.”

Living with Loss is currently offered in Mount Forest on the first Wednesday of every month out of the Birmingham Retirement Community. Two volunteers facilitate each session, which features a specific topic or theme that the members discuss. Approximately eight to 12 people attend each group.

To date, efforts to recruit new, consistent facilitators for this group have been unsuccessful. BFO-MR is currently offering its 20-hour training program in November and hopes to see representatives from the Mount Forest area attend.

There are currently facilitators to cover groups for the balance of the year, but nothing is yet confirmed for 2019.

“It’s very sad to think we may have to cancel this group, particularly since we know it is so needed in this community,” says Bickerton. “It is definitely not a decision we are taking lightly, but we may not have a choice.”

Bickerton suspects that nerves may be part of what is preventing some people from becoming a peer facilitator with this group. Time commitment may also be a factor. It is anticipated volunteers contribute approximately four hours per month preparing for and actually running the group.

“We want any potential volunteers to know that they aren’t expected to have all the answers or to “fix” anyone. As a peer, our facilitators bring their experience into group, encourage conversation, dialogue and an exploration of thoughts, feelings and emotions. They help others share their story and most importantly, help them understand they are not alone.”

Information about BFO-MR’s upcoming volunteer facilitator training program can be found online at, or by contacting the office at 519-603-0196 or emailing

For more information, please contact:
Jaime Bickerton, Executive Director
Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region
T: 519-603-0196  E: