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Social workers gather at University to discuss children facing death or bereavement

Children facing bereavement conference

THE challenges faced by children dealing with death or a bereavement in their family were discussed at a national conference hosted at the University of Chichester.

Nearly 100 practitioners working with or supporting children facing life-shortening illnesses, their own death, or who have lost a relative attended the recent event. It explored how young people cope with terminal illness based on assessments by researchers and leading organisations and charities.

Organiser Marie Price, a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Chichester, planned the day to share knowledge and provide a forum for networking. She said: “If children are not able to manage their grief when they are young it presents itself again when they are adults, particularly when they have children of their own.

Marie Price

“Talking about death is difficult but it is becoming more acceptable. It is often adults who have concerns rather than the children themselves. Children are more open to talking about their fears and anxieties then we often realise.”

The conference included workshops, talks, and presentations to share knowledge, encourage discussion, and develop dialogue around death and bereavement. Among the speakers was Sacha Richardson, a psychotherapist and director of national charity Winston’s Wish, who spoke about the importance of developing a culture which talks openly about death and bereavement among children.

He was joined by Rosie Mather of Child Bereavement UK whose lecture will explore the work the organisation undertakes in areas of extreme deprivation throughout the country, and why poverty can create additional problems for grieving families. The conference was also attended by Annette Lawrence Owen, below, the lead nurse in West Sussex for sudden and unexpected child death.

Annette Lawrence Owen

To find out more about the conference email Marie Price at m.price@chi.ac.uk. Alternatively for more about the work of the University of Chichester’s Department of Childhood, Social Work and Social Care go to www.chi.ac.uk/social-work.

Photos by Maria Riese