I joined the Co-op over 16 years ago now! Over the years I’ve held many roles such as Funeral Service Crew Member, Workshop Team Member, Garage Manager, Funeral Service Manager, and most recently my current and favourite role of Funeral Director.
Advocating for my colleagues
In my role as a Funeral Director I look after all our clients’ needs and wishes in giving their loved one the best goodbye. I’ve worked in the funeral industry for 26 years now and the satisfaction I get from helping people to say goodbye in the right way for them is why I’ve stuck around so long.
In 2021 I became a colleague voice rep and this voluntary position allows me to bring the views and voices of my colleagues to the attention of Co-op’s most senior leaders. I’ve recently supported the creation of our new colleague and client codes, which will help to make sure colleagues can come to work every day confident they’ll be treated with respect and kindness.
Becoming a psychological first aider
Throughout my time at Co-op I’ve worked alongside the emergency services, and talking to them over the years, I realised that if they were ever involved in a traumatic or abusive situation, they were offered support. This could be from a peer, a line manager or a professional counsellor, but it was in stark contrast to the funeral trade. It was our job to deal with traumatic, stressful situations, and we just got on with it.
All this changed when I was asked to become a psychological first aider (PFA) in 2021. As a PFA I’m part of a group of colleagues who have received training to enable us to support our peers if they have been impacted by an incident either at work, or in their personal life. We support our colleagues by:
- Providing short-term support in response to a specific event.
- Helping them to deal with post-traumatic stress.
- Pro-actively raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and offering strategies for colleagues to support their own wellbeing.
- Creating safe spaces where colleagues can talk openly about their experiences.
- Signposting them towards additional support services in and outside Co-op
Welcoming new colleagues to the industry
Another part of my role as a PFA is looking after new starters – checking in with them regularly, as we all know that starting any new job can be very daunting. I speak to so many new colleagues who’ve joined us having never worked in the industry before and they are blown away by the real sense of community and care in our teams.
Working in the funeral trade is not for everyone, but for some it’s a vocation. If you’re someone who loves helping people and you want to do a job with purpose, I honestly believe there’s nowhere better. I’m really proud that as a PFA I’m helping to create an environment where colleagues can come to work expecting to be treated with the same kind of care and compassion they provide to our clients every day.