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Death, Life and All That Matters

Updated: Jun 10

You may have heard us making a lot of noise on social media during a week in May from Monday 6th May – Monday 13th May. What was that all about?

It was Dying Matters Awareness Week! This is a week in the year when nationally people are encouraged to help communities come together to talk about having those “end of life” conversations, and thinking about how we support people who are grieving.


In a nutshell – the way we talk about Dying matters. Northfield Neighbourhood Network Scheme (NNS) first started working in this area of Compassionate Communities a year ago, finding out about natural undertaking, death cafes, and attending training about bereavement awareness. Since then, we have encouraged the growth of 3 new bereavement support groups in different wards of the constituency, provided bereavement awareness sessions for over 70 local staff and citizens, and started to help “normalise” conversations in the community around death, dying & loss.


A year on, and we decided to join in with BrumYODO’s “A Matter of Life & Death Festival” which they organise every year to coincide with Dying Matters Awareness Week. BrumYODO (You Only Die Once) is a community interest company “made up of a growing group of artists, undertakers, food artists, hospices, palliative care professionals and generally all-round interesting folk.”


Their vision is to create “a society which talks openly and honestly about death. They believe talking openly about death helps us prepare for dying & loss. They design and create safe spaces for conversation through collaboration and deliver life-enhancing public events.”

In Northfield we joined in with the “Matter of Life and Death Festival” and worked with local partners to support several local events all over the constituency. See below:


ARE YOU READY?  This was a Death café at Chasmanns coffee shop. Local people were able to pop along one evening and meet a local solicitor who was able to advise and answer all sorts of questions about Writing wills and Power of Attorney.


SPRING WREATH WORKSHOP: A local community group spent a morning making spring wreaths and supporting each other with discussions a

bout loss & death in their own lives.


TO ABSENT FRIENDS: A small informal gathering at the Black Horse pub where people were able to come together over a meal and a drink and share stories of loved ones who had died. Everyone brought an object or a photo, shared their memories, and then all raised a toast “to absent friends”.


GETTING YOUR THINGS IN ORDER:

Older people were invited to attend this event which was a Q&A session with someone from AgeUK who was able to advise on all sorts of matters around funeral planning and planning for end of life.


LIFE CYCLE:

This was a special drop-in event for families and children hosted in a community garden helping children understand the natural cycle of life & death

through compost, worms and planting.


And we ended our dying matters week with a finale at St Chads in Rubery called:


COFFINS, CAKE & CONNECTION:

An event that brought over 18 organisations together all working in this space of “compassionate communities”. Local people of Northfield were encouraged to drop by, have meaningful conversations with a wide range of support, have a cup of tea, make a personalised keyring or decorate a cake in memory of someone special they might have lost, and generally feel comfortable talking about “matters of loss, death and end of life.”


Here at Northfield NNS, we will continue to develop and support activities and safe spaces around this agenda of growing “compassionate communities”. We have a leaflet that summarises the current support available locally in the Northfield constituency and citywide.

Watch out for more events later in the year and do feel free to contact us if you are interested in hosting something or would like to get more involved in the work of “compassionate communities.”

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