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6th May 2022

Hospice encourages community to open up conversation about dying, death and grief

St Helena Hospice is encouraging people to talk about dying, death and grief, and to listen to and support people who are dying and who have been bereaved. 
Dying Matters Awareness Week, which was 2nd – 6th May, is a national annual campaign to highlight the importance of having conversations about being in a good place to die – physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually, and with the right care and support. The campaign also highlights the importance of ensuring quality end of life care is accessible to everyone. 

St Helena Hospice also used the awareness week as a springboard to launch compassionate communities in north east Essex, holding the first compassionate communities network events at Clacton and Harwich libraries to open up the conversation around death, dying and grief.  

Compassionate communities is a community network for residents, organisations, groups, schools, healthcare services, as well as service users and carers to come together to promote and support kindness, compassion and a collaborative approach to caring for one another in times of health crisis and personal loss. 

Attending the compassionate communities network events were representatives from a range of local health and social care providers, charities and community groups. The network meetings will be used to share some of the local services, projects and activities that are supporting people experiencing death, dying and grief and to help identify how, as a compassionate community, everyone can work together to help meet the end of life care and bereavement support needs of the local community.  

Greg Cooper, head of partnerships at St Helena, said: “Being part of a compassionate community is about looking out for others and making a difference where you can to those approaching end of life or grieving the death of a loved one.  

“A key part of compassionate communities is having the conversations to overcome the stigma around dying, death and bereavement. We want to encourage people to talk to each other, to share their knowledge and stories, so they can help relatives, friends, neighbours and colleagues and ensure everyone has access to the support they need before and after end of life.

A group of health and social care professionals standing outside Clacton Library

“Involving and empowering local communities is so important, especially to help reach people who historically haven’t accessed or aren’t aware of the support available to them. It’s important we identify what the barriers are and remove them by listening to different groups of people and learning from them, so everyone within the community has access to the help they may need.”

Marjorie Appleyard, volunteer with the CVST Dementia Café, CCG Health Forum and Pastoral Asst. at St James's, attended the compassionate communities network meeting in Clacton. She said: “I am so pleased to see something positive like this happening for the community of Clacton and I will be encouraging others to get involved in Compassionate Clacton because I think together we can make a big difference to the people who are isolated and vulnerable and really do need help and support.”

Thomas Bell, from Age Well East, added: “The barrier to entry to key services through lack of knowledge is just heart-breaking and that’s why I’m so passionate about Compassionate Communities.”

To find out how you can support compassionate communities in north east Essex, contact Greg at St Helena by emailing


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