Leeds ,

Dying Matters week brings poetry emotion

Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan is backing this year’s Dying Matters week with a specially written poem which will be heard for the first time at a special event at Leeds City Museum on Tuesday 10th May.

The Barnsley bard, Ian McMillan’s ‘Don’t leave it unsaid’ poem will have its debut public reading at the launch and it will then be shown on the Big Screen in Millennium Square, as well as online. Dying Matters awareness week runs from 9th to 13th May and the theme this year is the ‘Big Conversation’.

Ian McMillan said:

“I'm happy to support this campaign because dying is part of everyday life, and the more we talk about it the less scary it gets; and I've made a will because then my loved ones will have one less thing to think about when I've gone.”

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council executive member for health, adults and sport, said:

“I’m really pleased Ian McMillan is supporting Dying Matters and the idea of the ‘Big Conversation’. We want to encourage people to start discussions and talking to your nearest and dearest about funeral plans, making wills, becoming an organ donor, setting up a power of attorney and other issues.

“We all know that these can seem uncomfortable issues to talk about, but making sure people know what you want to happen after you die, planning to take care of finances and what to do when you pass away is really important. It can save family and friends lots of stress, time and money as they try to plan for funerals and the aftermath of dying and make it easier for the decisions made to reflect what you actually want, rather than people having to guess.”

The Dying Matters Partnership in Leeds includes a wide range of organisations and individuals, including Clinical Commissioning Groups, the two hospices, Public Health teams, libraries, museums and galleries, the local specialist palliative care team, Leeds Community Health Care, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.

There will be an event to encourage people to be aware of the Dying Matters advice and to share help and advice for planning their own ‘Big Conversations’. Starting at 10.45 on Tuesday 10 May at Leeds City Museum, with a formal opening by Cllr Mulherin, there will be a New Orleans style jazz band processing around Millennium Square and leading everyone into the City Museum where a Dying Matters marketplace will take place.

Lucy Jackson, Leeds City Council Public Health consultant, said:

“Talking about death and dying won’t make it happen any sooner, but it could make a huge difference to the people you know. I hope as many people as possible join us in the Big Conversation in Dying Matters week. There’s lots going on, from support with will writing to the chance to vote for the Leeds top ten of funeral music!”

Other activities include a marketplace with stalls offering advice, information and interactive activities provided by Age UK, National Association of Funeral Directors, LCC libraries, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, St Gemmas, Wheatfields Hospice, Leeds Community Healthcare, Palliative Care, Leeds Bereavement Forum, and solicitors.

There will be a Dying Matters cinema showing a series of short up-lifting films about death and dying and a ‘Death café’, where you can drink tea/coffee, eat specially themed cakes and talk about death in a safe and comfortable environment, with staff from the two hospices will be on hand to help out. Leeds-based artist and performance maker, Ellie Harrison has developed a board game called “The Crossing” about how you would like to be remembered. Attendees can also help fill a tree by writing down how they would wish to be remembered and placing it on the tree.

Other speakers will include Xina Gooding Broderick, a certified grief recovery specialist from Hugh Gooding funeral services and Dr Andy Harris, Clinical Chief Officer of NHS Leeds South and East CCG and a GP in East Leeds.

Notes for editors

Leeds City Council is one of 30,000 members of the national Dying Matters Coalition, all of whom have an interest in supporting the changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement. Members include organisations from the health and care sectors, community groups, social care and housing, faith groups, the legal profession and the funeral sector.

Set up by the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) in 2009, the Dying Matters Coalition aims to encourage people to talk about their own end of life issues with friends, family and loved ones in order to make ‘a good death’ possible for the 500,000 people who die in England each year.

More information is available at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dying-matters-in-leeds-tickets-24283930891?aff=es2