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P-31 The art of stimulating conversation
  1. Denise Williams and
  2. Rachel Shovelton
  1. East Lancashire Hospice, Blackburn, UK


Rationale In our society people are fearful of illness, death and bereavement and find it difficult to talk about these issues. Research indicates that having positive and honest conversations about these topics improves people’s experience of these events when they occur in their life.

Aim To stimulate people in our community to have open, positive conversations about illness, death and bereavement

Method Successful bid for a project manager to run a pilot in 2017. Research into how to encourage conversations about difficult topics. Invited participation from; community groups, schools, colleges, universities, care homes, and youth groups. Held a workshop explaining the aim of the project. Provided art materials donated free of charge by a local supplier. Provided interim support visit. Held exhibitions of work produced in the community and at the hospice during Dying Matters Week. Evaluation of impact. Reach and impact of the project expanded to care homes, universities and high schools in 2018. Investment one day a week for one member of staff.


  • Workshops provided to 187 participants

  • 944 people attended the exhibitions

  • Significant increase in the percentage of people thinking about and having conversations about illness, death and bereavement

  • Partnership working with local community increasing awareness of the hospice and services

  • Production of amazing art and performance that has demonstrated impact

  • Income generation through donations at exhibitions

  • Access to free art materials for project and hospice services

  • Donation of art work for the hospice environment

  • DVD of performances to inform education

  • Representatives accessing bereavement education provided by the hospice.

Conclusion The Arts provide a valuable opportunity to work with communities to stimulate conversations about illness, death and bereavement and establish mutually beneficial links between the hospice and our community. This project is fun, rewarding and easily replicated in other communities.

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