Volunteer only . . . The Central Otago Compassionate Friends chairwoman Jan Pessione and committee member Louise McKenzie. The organisation will being operating on a volunteer-only basis. PHOTO: RUBY SHAW

A much valued community resource is going volunteer only, but is still committed to supporting local grieving families.

Central Otago Compassionate Friends (COCF) decided at its annual meeting last month not to replace the paid role of coordinator, leaving the organisation volunteer only.

COCF supports bereaved families in the Central Otago area through personal assistance, such as one-on-one support.

Chairwoman Jan Pessione said the decision had come about when the COCF coordinator resigned and the assistant co-ordinator’s contract came to an end.

‘‘Our emergency meeting decided that we would continue on a voluntary basis but we will review the effectiveness on a regular basis,’’ Mrs Pessione said.

COCF would continue to receive funding for operational costs and if a review recommended the reestablishment of the role, it would seek funding for it.

‘‘We hope that people in the community . . .if they would like a listening ear or visit or support in some shape of form.. . .they would contact me,’’ she said.

She thanked all of the organisation’s previous coordinators for their work throughout the years.

Volunteers had faced their own bereavement and were uniquely placed to offer understanding to others, Mrs Pessione said.

Committee member Louise McKenzie agreed, and said the shared experience allowed volunteers to better support families.

‘‘It is a comfort to them to know that you understand.’’

Operating in a smaller community meant the organisation was well aware of the need for support, she said.

‘‘You know . . .people who are newly bereaved — it’s hard to leave them up in the air.’’

It often was not the family members who reached out for support but people who knew the family such as neighbours, counsellors and GPs, Mrs McKenzie said.

COFC can be contacted at [email protected]