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Project helps to break down taboos

Marie Curie Cancer Care is piloting an innovative programme called The Daffodil Project at its Newcastle hospice, which introduces 10 and 11-year-old children to sensitive topics around death and dying, as well as offering them an insight into hospice life.

During a four-week course children ‘buddy up’ with individual patients and are given the opportunity to explore the issues in a supportive environment. 

The project aims to break down the taboos and encourage discussion around these often sensitive topics. It also encourages children and patients living with terminal illnesses to come to terms with death and dying.

“I think the project can help the children be less fearful of illness in general,” said  a hospice patient. "Like adults, children can have preconceived ideas of what somebody with cancer or any life-limiting illness would look like or act like, and I think they are quite surprised when they come here and see people who can still laugh and still have fun."

A survey earlier this year, conducted by ComRes for Marie Curie, found that 71% of people think that people in the UK don’t talk enough about death and dying, with 50% of people saying they wouldn’t know where to turn for practical support if someone close to them were terminally ill.

The progamme has been running since March 2012 and more than 50 children from two local primary schools have already taken part. Another local primary school will be attending a course in the autumn. Its theme of death and dying feeds directly into the National Curriculum’s Personal Social Health and Economic (PSHE) theme of coping with loss, as well as health and illness. 

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