Dying Matters week returns to break death and dying taboos

Leeds, Leeds Star

A Leeds event aims to get more people making plans for end of life, after a survey in the city found 60% haven’t told their family what their funeral wishes are and 37% haven’t made a will.

Individuals and organisations from around Leeds are building on the success of last year’s award winning Dying Matters campaign with a range of favourite and new events for Dying Matters Week 2017, kicking off with a launch event at Leeds City Museum on 9 May.

The free event will see a return of the popular New Orleans style jazz band accompanying an eco-hearse around Millennium Square, before a cardboard coffin is taken into the City museum to be decorated by visitors. A range of speakers, stalls and activities are arranged in the museum to help people understand how best to plan for death. The event – titled ‘Everything you wanted to know about death but were afraid to ask’ – will provide information on topics including local hospices and bereavement support and includes free talks and practical advice such as making a will.

Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“It’s a subject most people don’t want to talk about until it is too late or forced upon them by circumstances. But Dying Matters week is a great chance to realise that by sharing important information and planning earlier you and your loved ones are going to be much more likely to get the end of your life dealt with in accordance with you want, not what other might think you want.”

“If we all do that, we can ensure our final wishes are carried out, and our death is made that little bit easier for those they leave behind who are not left with as much organisation to do on top of grieving.”

Paul Hayes, Dying Matters national spokesperson said:

“Leeds is really showing how important it is to break down the taboos around talking about death openly and plainly. This isn’t about inappropriately bringing up the subject just for the sake of it – it is about making the most of chances which come up to let family and friends know about our wishes are and getting plans in place rather than trusting to luck and leaving things until it is too late. Having Dying Matters Week gives everyone that chance.”

Find out more about Dying Matters Awareness Week, which runs 8-14th May, by visiting the Dying Matters Partnership website http://dyingmattersleeds.org/

Further information about local end of life care support services is available on by visiting www.leedspalliativecare.co.uk

Dying Matters notes for editors

The launch event will start at 10.45am, on 9th May outside Leeds City Museum at 10.45 with the New Orleans Style Band and Umbrella Dancer – courtesy of Hugh Gooding Funerals.

After this the event will be formally opened by Cllr Charlwood, Leeds City Council executive member for Health, Wellbeing & Adults and Paul Hayes, Quality improvement Manager (Associate) National Council for Palliative Care and Dying Matters.

Tickets can be obtained at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-death-but-were-afraid-to-ask-tickets-33493823929

Among organisations supporting the launch event are:

  • Clarion Solicitors;
  • Full Circle Funerals;
  • Hugh Gooding Funerals;
  • Emsleys Solicitors;
  • Age UK Leeds;
  • Leeds Bereavement Forum;
  • LTHT;
  • Dogs Trust;
  • Leeds City Council;
  • Compassion in Dying;
  • St Gemma’s;
  • Wheatfields;
  • Family history;
  • Dying Matters (national);
  • Mesmac;
  • Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service;
  • Carers Leeds;
  • Survey data comes from a 2016 survey of 807 people in Leeds conducted by the Dying Matters Leeds Partnership
  • A national survey by Dying Matters also found:
  • Four out of five survey respondents believe people in Britain are uncomfortable discussing death and dying
  • Just over a third of people have registered as an organ donor and three in ten people have let someone know their funeral wishes.
  • Although 60 percent of the half million who die each die in hospitals, 70 per cent of people would like to die at home.