What is the social/environmental problem/issue that this project will address?
Social harms are caused because as a culture we find it difficult to be open about death, dying and bereavement. For example, social isolation is caused because people don't know what to say or do around people who've been bereaved.
Promoting activities which encourage people to share stories and memories of dead loved ones has the potential to reduce the isolation experienced by people who have experienced loss and feel unable to share that loss.
People are more likely to feel able to offer informal support to others who have experienced loss if they are used to acknowledging and talking about their own losses.
Can you give us some statistics on this problem?
Around 224,000 people are bereaved in Scotland each year, and bereavement is something that affects all of us at some point in our lives.
The problems caused by people not knowing how to behave around bereaved people are perhaps better illustrated through qualitative information than through stats.
These two films are particularly powerful, in which parents who have experienced the loss of a child explain how their lives are made even harder because people won't 'say the name' of their child.
Children’s Hospice Association Scotland: http://www.chas.org.uk/100percentproject/whatis100 AND Compassionate Compassionate Friends UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS9z3dwMhZs
If you’re interested in finding out more about the need to increase general openness about death, check out the Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief website: http://www.goodlifedeathgrief.org.uk/content/why_more_open/
What is your solution?
We want to create a selection of beer mats which prompt people to share stories and memories of people who have died - a grandparent with a fascinating life, a friend with a special sense of humour. These provide an unobtrusive starting point for positive conversations in informal environments. We have wide networks (including Marie Curie, Macmillan, all Scottish Hospices and NHS Boards) and so will be able to get the beer mats distributed widely. The beer mats will be part of the wider To Absent Friends festival of storytelling and remembrance taking place in November: www.toabsentfriends.org.uk
How will you deliver this?
People will use the mats to put their drink on, in cafes and pubs and canteens. The mats will have intriguing sentences and quotes on them, which will catch people's eye. The messages on the beer mats will be interesting, but not instructional. Reading the mats will start conversation naturally down the road of positively reminiscing about people who have died. Talking about dead loved ones in public like this helps to show that it is socially acceptable to do so, and will help people to become more comfortable and able to provide informal support.