Dr Hywel Francis MP named Chair of Dying Matters Wales

2 September 2014
Dr Hywel Francis MP has been appointed as the first ever Chair of Byw Nawr (Live Now), set up by the Dying Matters Coalition with the support of the Welsh Government to encourage people in Wales to talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement.

In taking forward the work of Dying Matters in Wales, Byw Nawr (Live Now) will ask people to sign up to its volunteer database and encourage communities to engage in conversations and activities that promote a healthy and realistic attitude to death and dying, planning in advance and leaving legacies for loved ones. To support this, it will be encouraging people to consider writing a will, recording their funeral wishes; registering as an organ donor and letting those close to them know if they want to be a potential donor; planning their future care and support and telling their loved ones their wishes. 

Although every minute someone in the UK dies, most of us are failing to face up to our own mortality. A ComRes survey for the Dying Matters Coalition earlier this year found that many people in Wales are not making adequate plans for their death and don’t know the wishes of their loved ones. 

  • Just 29% said they had made a will
  • Just 28% had let someone know their funeral wishes
  • Just 2% had written down wishes or preferences about the care they would want (the lowest in Britain)
  • Just 16% had talked to someone about their own wishes

Claire Henry, Chief Executive of the Dying Matters Coalition, commented: "We’re absolutely delighted to be taking Dying Matters forward in Wales, and thrilled to have someone of the calibre of Dr Hywel Francis MP as the first Chair of Byw Nawr (Live Now) – Dying Matters in Wales.

"Since it was first set up in England to raise public awareness of the importance of talking more openly about dying, death and bereavement and of making your wishes known, Dying Matters has had a lot of interest from people in Wales, but we’ve not been able to make the most of this until now.

"This year’s Dying Matters Awareness Week, which took place in May, showed enormous appetite for our work in Wales, with two very well attended conferences, a range of awareness-raising events and activities and Dying Matters leaflets available in Welsh for the first time ever. However, this is only the start. We want to see individuals and organisations from across Wales getting involved, whether that’s by sharing their story, holding events and activities aimed at breaking the taboo about talking about dying, death and bereavement or changing their own approach to dying and talking about it so that they can make the most of living.

"Dying is one of life’s few certainties and planning ahead can help you to get on and make the most of life: don’t leave it too late to discuss your wishes.”

Dr Hywel Francis has been MP for Aberavon since 2001 and was previously Professor of Continuing Education at Swansea University. He is currently Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and is a former Chair of the Welsh Affairs Committee.

Dr Francis said: “I am delighted to be taking this opportunity to develop Dying Matters in Wales as Chair of Byw Nawr. It’s such an important subject that affects us all, and by working together we can and must do more to talk openly about dying, death and bereavement and improve end of life care for everyone in Wales.

"If life’s lessons have taught me anything, it is to be prepared and plan for the inevitable, but above all to embrace life and live it well and to the full with the knowledge that you are as ready as you can be for whatever life throws at you. That’s why I would urge you to sign up to Byw Nawr (Live Now) today so we can begin that big conversation.”

Dr Hywel Francis' blog

"Nothing prepared us for the sadness of losing our son." In an exclusive blog post, Dr Hywel Francis shares the personal reasons he wanted to chair Byw Nawr

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