A GRIEVING son was told he was not entitled to bereavement counselling after the death of his father – because he was from Sunderland.
When Matthew Errington, registered the death of his dad, also called Matthew, with Sunderland City Council, he was referred by the Bereavement Advice Centre to counselling service Cruse to help him cope with his loss.
The father of three said: “When I rang up Cruse they asked me which area I paid my council tax in and then said ‘I’m sorry, we can’t go any further because you come from Sunderland. We can’t speak to you. We can speak to anyone else in the country, but not Sunderland’.”
The 51-year-old was told the national charity does not cover the city due to funding issues.
Now, Matthew, a company director, has hit out at the “second class” treatment of Sunderland’s residents.
He said: “If your mother or father dies and you are unfortunate enough to live in Sunderland, they won’t help.
“I’m ashamed to live in Sunderland. I feel like we are living in some kind of swamp in the back waters.
“Cruse must have a map on their wall and Sunderland is blacked out. It seems you are a second-class person if you come from here.”
Mr Errington, of Ayton, Washington, is now caring for his widowed mother, Joanna, 87.
Cruse’s director of fund-raising, Liz Taylor, said funding for the service could come from a variety of sources, including local authorities, primary care trusts or local funding sources.
Ms Taylor added: “We have to fight for funding. With anything on the scale we have - we have 100 branches - some have been set up recently and some are more historical.
“We support 32,000 bereaved people face-to-face every year, through a network of 6,000 volunteers.
“We don’t always get it right. If it is an area that has not got support, in the future it would be much better if it did.
“The reality is it is very hard to get funding at the moment.”
Cruse is the UK’s largest bereavement charity and last year gave 34,759 bereaved people one-to-one support, including 2762 children.