Dying Matters Kick-off Event - Dying to be Heard
Tracey Bleakley, CEO of Hospice UK, started the day with a great overview of the theme of Dying To Be Heard, where she set out the plans and challenges for 2020.
Simon Cox from Simplicity Cremations and Tom Johnson from the Trajectory Partnership then introduced some new, currently unpublished research about public attitudes to alternative funerals. The research broadly shows that there is reasonable awareness of the alternatives to a traditional funeral, but very little agreement as to what elements make up one of these.
Mohamed Omer from the Gardens of Peace Muslim burial ground then gave an overview of Islamic funeral and mourning practices. Although many of the elements of these are specific to Islam, it was striking how it reflected the universal human need to mark the end of a life with respect and dignity, and to allow those left behind to grieve. It was educational and entertaining, and helps us all engage better with our communities.
Sarah West from Hospice UK shared the results of a survey of Dying Matters supporters undertaken late last year. That gave us, for the first time, a better idea of who our supporters are and what they might do to support the campaign. From this base, Sarah shared the plans to extend Dying Matters beyond the annual Awareness Week to be more active year-round and to work with groups we don’t currently reach.
Diane Parkes and Sharon Hudson from BrumYODO explained how their Dying Matters activities have gone from a small start to a citywide annual festival focusing on the arts to encourage conversations about death.
Angie Matthews spoke about the sudden death of her father, and the difficult conversations she and her mother had about organ donation. He was not a registered donor, but he had been in good health and was able to donate organs and tissue to bring health to a wide variety of adults and babies. Angie spoke powerfully about how, although it was a hard decision, both she and her mother were pleased it was one they took.
Then Claire Williment from NHS Blood and Transplant spoke about the changes coming to the organ donor register in England later this year, and how people can get hold of leaflets, videos and other information about these. She warned about the false information about the change circulating on social media and how the change will keep families in the loop. She also stressed the need for timely conversations about our organ donation wishes.
In the final section of the day, Mireille Hayden from Gentle Dusk gave many great practical examples of organising Dying Matters events with little or no funding. Every year Gentle Dusk organises very popular Dying Matters events in Islington, including the very popular Dying For a Cuppa.
The last speaker was filmmaker Jane Harris. Since her son died while travelling overseas, Jane and husband Jimmy have made a number of powerful, thoughtful films about grief, loss and end of life care. She showed trailers and talked about how she and Jimmy use these for Dying Matters and other events around the country, with a film showing followed by a Q&A session.
Our thanks go to everyone who came, and Simplicity Cremations for supporting the day. You can find the speaker presentations here.
- Tracey Bleakley, Chief Executive, Hospice UK (video of talk here)
- Sarah West, Director of Campaigns and Communications, Hospice UK (video of talk here)
- Toby Scott, Head of Communications and Campaigns, Hospice UK (video of talk here)
- Mireille Hayden, Gentle Dusk
- Jane Harris, The Good Grief Project
- Sharon Hudson, BrumYODO
- Mohamded Omer, Gardens of Peace
- Angie Matthews, Compton Care (video of talk here)
- Tom Johnson, the Trajectory Partnership and Simon Cox, Simplicity Cremations