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Project to help young people talk about death and bereavement receives funding

24/03/2021

A new project involving University of Wolverhampton expertise, that aims to encourage young people to talk about death, dying and bereavement, has been launched.

The ‘Dying to Talk’ project aims to break down taboos and strengthen mental health.

It is being run between University of Wolverhampton, University of Bradford and Child Bereavement UK.

The £100,000 project is being funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the two universities.

Dr Jane Booth, a senior lecturer in sociology and social policy at University of Wolverhampton, said: “It is great to have been awarded this funding so we can run this project and help encourage young people to talk about these topics.

“Death, dying and bereavement affect us all; death is a unifying element of life.

“However, the professionalisation of death, the responsibility to deal with death and dying, has been devolved to health and social care workers and other professionals.

“This removal of caring for the dying and dead, away from friends, families and communities, results in a weakening of the local support networks where bereavement support could be more sensitively delivered.

“It also diminishes the normality of death.

“It is perhaps not surprising then that we rarely speak about death and dying as we are often lacking the experience, language and confidence to do so.

“However, not being able to talk about the death of our loved ones can lead to mental health issues and other negative outcomes.

“This is especially true of young people, and is implicated in future depression, smoking, drug dependency, risk-taking behaviour, poor educational attainment, unemployment and criminal activity.”

The project draws on experiences of the University of Bradford's Continuing Bonds project, which used archaeology to open up discussion about death and bereavement.

Dr Karina Croucher, a senior lecturer in archaeology at University of Bradford, said: “The past can be a distanced, safe space from which to open up discussions about challenging topics, including death and bereavement – we can learn from the past about the diversity of experience in dealing with death, and this helps us challenge what we think of as ‘right’ or ‘normal’.

“The project will draw on some of these principles, focusing on engaging young people and building resilience around bereavement.”  

‘Dying to Talk’ will focus on 14 to 19 year-olds in Wolverhampton and Bradford.

Ten young people will be recruited in each of the cities to work as ambassadors. Part of their role will be to co-produce the project’s activities and events that will be delivered in secondary schools across both of the areas.

Find out more about the project and recruitment of ambassadors on the project's website.

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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