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P-17 Bereaved and bewildered – a social experiment to empower and encourage change
  1. Zoe McPherson
  1. Pendleside Hospice, Burnley, UK


Bereaved people often have a common thread binding them together – loneliness and social isolation. In a pioneering approach we created a range of social experiences to bring these people together.


  • To introduce bereaved people in similar situations to one another

  • Decrease the feelings of loneliness and isolation

  • To encourage small friendship or interest groups

  • Empower them to create their own social opportunities

AimsWe were hearing the same issues time and time again; loneliness, isolation, lack of motivation. We wanted to tackle these issues whilst empowering people to take charge of their own lives. We decided on four main themes; physical, creative, social and intellectual.

We looked at what was already on offer in our local area then set about creating a programme of events so there was something to suit all tastes. For some of the smaller groups we ‘hand selected’ participants that we thought would get along well together and invited them to take part; this worked phenomenally well. In other groups we encouraged mixing with people they hadn’t yet met and, in others we did nothing and watched what happened and again there were remarkable results.

As a result of the different social groups on offer we have created a support network that has surpassed our own ideals. We have been instrumental in changing the lives of many of our service users. We know this because they have told us. We know this because we have done case studies. We listened to what they needed and we provided it and the impact on their lives has been extraordinary. A simple idea of tackling loneliness and social isolation has taken flight and become something that has had a huge impact on our service users.

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