Hosting a Dying Matters event (32 things to consider)
During Dying Matters Awareness Week 2015, MyWishes (formerly DeadSocial) ran a pop-up shop for the second consecutive year in Camden, London. MyWishes Chief Executive and founder James Norris tells the story of why, what, where and how it came to be. He concludes with 32 things to think about when running your own Dying Matters event.
MyWishes is an end of life tool that enables us to think about what will happen to our social networks when we pass away. The service also enables us to say "goodbye” to our friends and family by sending written (and recorded) messages to our personal Facebook and Twitter accounts. We fully support Dying Matters Awareness Week and have enjoyed getting more involved each year over the past two years.
Running an event is hard work yet hugely rewarding for all involved. For the last two years we scheduled a week’s worth of events for our Dying Matters Awareness Week pop-up shop. We ran our own events and provided space for different brands and charities. Each organisation would take over the reins for an allocated amount of time and make it their own. By working together in this way, a wide range of topics were covered.
Above: the information table at the pop-up shop, which offered materials from Dying Matters and every organisation involved in the enterprise.
- Raising awareness of death and dying while contributing to the noise generated by hundreds of other events across the UK.
- Providing a service to the community.
- Strengthening relationships with lots of contributing organisations.
- Providing a creative and safe environment in which to discuss death and bereavement.
- Attaining a better understanding of how we can serve the community.
- Having fun!
Above: the 'LivInfographic’ art installation was created to brighten up an empty area in the pop-up shop.
We tried to make the pop-up shop as interesting and inviting as possible. When programming events, we aimed to ensure they addressed a range of areas and used as many different creative mediums as possible. In doing so, we reached a variety of demographics and needs.
Above: Laurie Bolger from 'Save the Male' (supporting Campaign Against Living Miserably / CALM)).
Every organisation brought something new and special to the space. We would once again like to say a big THANK YOU to the following for their contribution this year:
Contributing Organisations: NHS Central & NW London; Camden Carers Service; Camden Carers Centre; University College London Hospital; Reclaiming Funerals Collective; The Good Funeral Guide; Greenfield Creations; Leverton & Sons; The Natural Death Centre; Death Café; Save the Male & DeadSocial.
Contributing Artists: Sequin Kay and Lauren Baker; Natalie Jackson; Marianne Hamel and Nikki Johnson; Krystle Mickael; Beth Hughes and Janne Parvianen; SweetCorn Bread.
Further information about the organisations, events and artists who collaborated with us in the pop-up shop can be found here
Above: the artwork displayed at our 2014 event was curated around the Dying Matters Awareness Week theme ‘You Only Die Once’. We received artwork from contributing artists across the UK, the USA and Finland.
DeadSocial’s office is based in London's very cool Camden High Street (Above: Susan Morris from The Natural Death Centre campaigning outside the pop-up shop). Despite Camden’s long and creative history, it still has a thriving local residents' community encompassing both young and old.
It was important for us to run an event close to the office and give something back to the borough. We successfully applied to use one of the pop-up shops provided by the Camden Collective (more about the Camden Collective Pop-Up Shops can be found here).
If you do not have an office or your office isn’t easily accessible, you may want to consider using a community space instead.
Above: funeral directors Leverton & Sons ahead of their ‘Ask the Undertaker’ event.
Running a Dying Matters Awareness Week event: 32 things to consider
Be Ready for your event well in advance.
- Dying Matters Awareness Week 2017 is from 8-14 May - save the date in your diary!
- Start thinking about ideas early.
- Ask your local parish, mosque, community centre, hospice etc about running a Dying Matters Awareness Week event in their premises
- If you do not know where your local hospice is, use this handy find a hospice tool from Help the Hospices.
- When you find a suitable space, make sure the venue knows you are hosting a not for profit event (they will hopefully provide it for free).
- Think about putting on a Death Cafe. They are a great way to get people talking about death and often draw a sizeable number of people.
- Print out direction signs and bring blue tack (if you are in a large venue).
- Make sure that you are over, not under, staffed!
- Don’t feel scared to call in favours from friends and family to help you run an event.
- Consider asking local poets, artists, musicians etc (especially those who address death and bereavement) to get involved. Artists have a great reach and may also bring their own fans and followers.
- Ask local businesses to sponsor the food and drink.
It is paramount that people know about your event, otherwise how can they attend! The average rule of thumb when hosting events is that 50% of those who say they will come actually turn up, so if 20 people confirm their attendance you should expect 10.
- Think about what your event will be about and who your intended audience is.
- Use the Dying Matters resources page for inspiration.
- Consider the location of your event and the time of day it is being held when deciding what specific subjects you would like to address.
- Add your event listing to the Dying Matters event listings portal (this is very important as it gives Dying Matters the opportunity to share your event with thousands of supporters across social networks).
- If you are hosting a Death Café add it to the Death Café website listings.
- If your event takes place in a hospice or relates to hospice care, add your listing to the eHospice events portal.
- Write a press release and include relevant images and logos (if possible). You might like to base your release on the Dying Matters Awareness Week 2016 one.
- Contact your local press. If you do not have a website or a blog with the event listing, direct them to the listing on the Dying Matters' website. If you use social media sites (like Facebook and Twitter) use them to announce your events publicly.
- Use hashtags (like #BigConversation, #YODO #DyingMatters etc) on social media sites and your marketing material. Find out more about hashtags here. Include information in your staff newsletters and through internal work emails (ideally with permission from your line manager / boss).
Running your Dying Matters Awareness Week event
Make your event friendly and welcoming to everyone…
- Offer free tea and cake (get baking at home to keep those costs down).
- Put a sign outside your venue to encourage people walking past to come participate.
- If you are using technology (videos etc) make sure that you have a ‘Plan B’ in case there are technical issues.
- Try and make the space as interesting as possible.
- Make a small circle of chairs for attendees and then make the circle larger with more chairs if more people turn up (there is nothing worse than a large circle of chairs with 2-3 people in it).
- Have background music playing when your guests arrive.
- Thank everyone who contributed.
- Thank everyone who attended.
- Ask attendees to leave their email addresses should they want to receive further correspondence from you and/or your organisation.
- Take lots of photos and videos - they can be used in so many different ways, including promoting further events.
DeadSocial is a free end of life and digital legacy tool. Find out more at deadsoci.al/
Planning an event - more top tips
How to create a Before I Die board