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Volunteers with learning disabilities win special award for St Giles Hospice bereavement project

Award winners Simon Cox and James Channon (left)

Wed 22 Sep 2021

Two volunteers with learning disabilities have won a special award for their work on a pioneering end of life care and bereavement project at St Giles Hospice.

Simon Cox, from Lichfield, and James Channon, from Burton, helped to plan and deliver the “Living, Dying and Remembering: Supporting people with Learning Disabilities” project at St Giles, part of which trained people to discuss issues around end of life care and bereavement with people who have learning disabilities.

Simon and James were presented with a “One to Watch” Award last week (16 September) at the national Palliative Care for People With Learning Disabilities (PCPLD) Network Linda McEnhill Awards (corr), which are given to people, teams or organisations who have made a positive difference to the experience of death, dying and bereavement of people with learning disabilities.

The Living, Dying and Remembering project began in June 2020 and is funded by Hospice UK.  The hospice-led project works in partnership with the Lichfield charity Friends 2 Friends along with several other organisations who work with people with learning disabilities.

Friends 2 Friends group members Simon and James helped to host the sessions in May and June of this year, checking that information was understandable to people with a learning disability. They also offered their insights on special videos during the sessions, hosted a quiz and answered questions from course members.

Ian Leech, Community Development Manager at St Giles Hospice, said: "James and Simon have been absolutely brilliant and a pleasure to work with. All of the course participants told us they would remember the input that they had into the project. 
"Undoubtedly, they were the stars of the show and were excellent in their openness, honesty, and sense of humour throughout, while talking about a very difficult subject."

Alison Wellon, Coordinator of Friends 2 Friends, said that everyone at the group was really proud of Simon and James and the contribution they made.

“Friends 2 Friends is all about inclusion and working together and that’s exactly what Simon and James did,” she said. “They were a bit worried at first that talking about death might be upsetting but they were determined to give it a go anyway and they really enjoyed helping out and making a difference.

“They were excellent and by offering the perspective of people with learning disabilities they made a fantastic contribution.” 

St Giles Hospice runs a number of bereavement support services including a telephone helpline offering information and guidance, bereavement help point sessions online and in the community offering support with the practical and emotional aspects of loss, and Phoenix, a dedicated bereavement support service for children and young people.

For more information about the bereavement support offered by St Giles visit www.stgileshospice.com/bereavement