Preparing a proposal

Before reading ‘Preparing a proposal’, we suggest you might want to look at our page on Developing a Suicide Bereavement Service to give you an idea of what a good service looks like, and what you might want to think about.

Fragmentation of services and organisations is a problem for many areas. This is especially pronounced in relation to mental health-related services where continuity of care and inter-agency working is critical to giving people the support they need. Support after suicide can only be effective with appropriate alignment between services and stakeholders, taking into account existing structures, policies and guidelines, both local and national. For example, how will you navigate between the Suicide Liaison Worker, the family, and the Coroner? Or will the police have access to local services who can contact the family within one week of the death?

Your proposal will need to be grounded in a whole locality approach, with strong evidence of the involvement and alignment of all of the relevant agencies and stakeholders.

You may wish to consider:

  • Existing suicide prevention and bereavement support policies locally
  • Your delivery structure for the planned service
  • The oversight structures of the planned service
  • How you will work with other agencies and stakeholders
  • Integrating lived experience into the service

Use these tools and resources to help you to align with national policy and practice:

In this section, you will need to outline in more detail how the proposed service will work within the structures and systems already in place locally. By clearly identifying gaps in provision and ensuring that the service enhances rather than confuses the local picture, decision makers can be clear on need and on meeting that need.

You may wish to consider:

  • Evidence of existing provision – what already works? What are the existing contracts, partnerships, and initiatives, and how can you use these to build a service?
  • Summarise all relevant organisations and stakeholders. You may find it useful and clearer to summarise this graphically to show relationships between stakeholders.
  • What are you missing? For example, is there sufficient capacity in the services you are signposting to? Is there real time referral in place?
  • The support and service landscape. Think about the following:
    • Health & Wellbeing, Safeguarding, Crisis Care
    • Local Authority, Public Health, statutory services
    • Police services
    • Emergency services
    • Primary & secondary care
    • NHS Trust & CCG commissioning
    • Third sector services
    • Community structures & services
    • Pastoral & faith-based resources
    • Local suicide prevention campaigns
    • Sanctuaries & safe spaces

This section gives you the opportunity to include more detail about the scope of the proposed service. There is no one size fits all approach to delivering a service, so the ideal scenario is the development of a service that meets local need. Extensive knowledge of local systems, contacts, resources and pathways is imperative.

You may wish to learn more about what a successful service looks like in our sections on Developing a Service and through our Case Studies.

We have outlined the necessary essential elements, as well as the optimum requirements for a service. We haven ot described the scope of a service here in detail, but you may wish to consider the following in your funding proposal.

What are the essential support functions? A service should be proactive (bereaved are contacted), have a single point of contact for service users, support through the inquest process, and be multi-agency.

Here are some elements the service might offer:

  • Essential support functions: bereavement counselling
  • Funeral guidance
  • Inquest support,
  • Police liaison
  • Serious Incident Reports
  • Dealing with the media
  • Pastoral care
  • Financial support signposting
  • Citizen’s Advice
  • Criminal Justice System
  • NHS referral pathways, private therapy,
  • Third sector resources
  • Legal and litigation signposting
  • Children’s services
  • Employment services
  • School liaison
  • Resource provision (e.g Help is at Hand).


What is your optimum delivery format? This could be single point of contact, 24/7 messaging, home visits, choice of service access settings, 48 or 72-hour first contact, support for up to two years, First Responder service integration, free at the point of access.

Service gaps and their resolution.

  • Approach to out-of-area deaths.
  • Integration of lived experience.
  • Opportunities for co-working with adjoining localities.
  • Resolution of any boundary ambiguities between STP, ICS, LA, CCG and Trust delimitations.

Useful tools and resources

A robust proposal will make best use of data and demographic information to fully inform the service plan. A successful service also requires the use of Real Time Data, which can be split into Real Time Surveillance (the collection of anonymised data to build a picture of suicide in your area) and Real Time Referral (the sharing of information – with consent – across services in your area to ensure appropriate support).

This section will help you to think about what data exists already and what you may need to develop/capture.

  • Do you have a good understanding of suicide in your area? What information is currently collected? For example, local suicide data might include demographic composition, methods, hotspots, local drivers and challenges.
  • Do you have a baseline against which service effectiveness can be evaluated? This is critical and will likely require research above and beyond what already exists.
  • Are they structures in place for Real Time Data? What will the referral pathway from frontline services to Suicide Liaison Service look like? Who do you need to engage in partnership to ensure a sustainable, reliable, information pathway?
  • How will you keep data safe and secure in line with GDPR, and other data protection requirements?

This is where you outline in more detail the ownership, governance and leadership of the planned service. You might want to consider where the service will sit, and who will provide governance and employment for the Suicide Liaison Team. Some points to consider may be:

  • Oversight function (STP, ICS, CCG, etc)
  • Which organisation will be nominated for leadership of the organisation and personnel? Some existing services work with local charities, such as Cruse or Mind. Others sit within NHS Trusts, such as Cornwall’s Outlook South West Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service.
  • Accountability and reporting lines, frequency of reporting, and nature. What information will be shared?
  • Proposed funding pathways
  • How will you ensure continuity?

Suicide bereavement is a specialist and demanding field. Recruiting and training appropriately skilled and trained personnel will be essential in delivering your service. Full-time and fully dedicated suicide support workers should be considered the default service template.

Use this section to outline your planned structure and management plan.

  • What is your staff profile, appropriate to local demographic and all age groups (including children)?
  • What are the minimum skills and competencies you require in your staff? We would suggest the Suicide Liaison Worker holds qualifications in Counselling and Psychotherapy, and is an Accredited member of the BACP (we have outlined skills template of this role)
  • How many full-time dedicated WTE roles and how this relates to projected demand, based on need?
  • What do you need to provide staff? For examples; continuity and workload planning, CPD, training, safeguarding, supervision for staff?
  • How will lived experience of suicide be integrated throughout the staff structure?
  • What policies need to be in place?

This hub covers more about staff and personnel, including a template job description for a Suicide Liaison Worker Role.


Your proposal may be in response to a specific tender, so your financial information will need to fit the format given. This section can help you to identify additional questions and gaps to address in outlining funding structures, management and efficacy. You might wish to consider:

  • What funding already exists? How will extra funding enhance (and not replace) existing support?
  • What is the relationship between suggested and proposed funding?
  • Integration with other programmes and funding sources.
  • Is the funding relative to projected demand?
  • Financial metrics (e.g per capita spend, return on investment, system cost savings in crisis aversion).
  • Fiscal oversight and administration
  • Service delivery relative to overhead costs.
  • Funding structures which permit support and care for up to two years post-suicide.

Useful tools and resources

Consistent and sustainable suicide bereavement support is essential, so ensuring that your service is developed with the future in mind is important. Evaluation, carried out independently where possible, allows constant improvement and refinement.

  • Service sustainability from 24 months after funding allocation.
  • Methodology for service consistency and sustainability over time.
  • Sustainable governance.
  • Evaluation methods and planning (remembering that independent assessment is preferable).
  • Continuous learning and service refinement.
  • Working with partners – opportunities for enhancing sustainability via inter-locating learning and co-operation.
  • Integration with current and likely future policy and funding landscape (including the NHS Long Term Plan).

Useful tools and resources