SHG members at Dying Matters Awareness Week

Shropshire Humanist Group members took part in the Dying Matters Awareness Week in May.

Dying Matters Awareness Week is organised to encourage people to think and talk openly about death and dying and about being prepared for their own deaths.

This year in Telford the Community Health Team and in Shrewsbury the local Hospice organised stalls in shopping areas with information on various subjects: the work of the Samaritans, the making of wills, making a bucket list, palliative care options, and the stalls were manned by volunteers from various organisations.

Sue Falder and Simon Nightingale, both celebrants belonging to the Shropshire Humanist Group, displayed information about humanist funerals and talked to passers-by about the aims of the week. Some people superstitiously felt that to talk about death was to bring it on. Others were well ahead with their preparations, wills written, funeral instructions done. Still others spoke movingly about their own experience of illness and dying in members of their family.

The picture shows some of those at the Telford stall on 12 May. Sue Falder is on the right.

April meeting report

Sue Falder reports:

Humanism and RE

At the April meeting, Chris Smith gave an account of her experience as a humanist rep on the joint Shropshire Telford and Wrekin SACRE. She detailed the legal situation with regard to RE and daily worship, and defended the presence of humanists on what is essentially a committee of religious representatives whose main concern is that religion continues to be taught. She pointed out that through BHA campaigning the word `humanism’ now appears in GCSE RE syllabuses, and our representatives can continue to press for inclusivity in the wording of local syllabuses, which are the province of the SACREs in each authority, for instance suggesting words like `lifestance’  be used as well as or instead of `religion’.

Now that the two authorities have separated, Simon Nightingale will be attending the Shropshire meetings, and he and Chris hope that they will be able to argue for full inclusion onto the SACREs rather than continuing simply as observers.

Simon gave another Sunday morning talk as part of the Mike George Show on Radio Shropshire recently, in which he reflected on the changing face of RE teaching in his lifetime and the need now for real recognition of the multi-cultural nature of children’s experience.

Dying Matters Week 16th – 22nd  May

Dying Matters is a broad-based coalition set up by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) to raise public awareness of dying, death and bereavement, to support the implementation of the Government’s End of Life Care Strategy. The BHA is a part of it.

The Dying Matters Coalition mission is to promote awareness and support changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement, and through this to make a ‘good death’ the norm. Everybody – whatever their age or state of health – needs to talk about their wishes towards the end of life with their friends, families and loved ones. The earlier we talk about it the easier it is emotionally and practically for everyone.

One of the facts publicised is that 70% of people say they don’t want to die in hospital, but 60% actually do.

Members tried answering a Dying Matters quiz which tested our knowledge of the practical and legal side of preparing for your death or dealing with anothers – including the average cost of a funeral (£2549) and statistics on organ transplant and donation.


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