It’s time for Croydon to talk about death


By - Thursday 6th September, 2018

We’re creating conversations on a topic that matters to everyone


Photo by Liz Sheppard-Jones, used with permission.

I’ve been a Croydon resident for seventy-two years and it’s a bustling, vibrant and diverse place to live. For the last two years I’ve been lucky enough to work in Croydon too: I’m proud to work for our local hospice, St Christopher’s, leading a fascinating community project called Creating Conversations in Croydon.

Many people are fearful of death and find it difficult to talk openly or make vital plans. Our goal is to help people find the confidence to have these challenging conversations around death, dying and loss, and to encourage people to prepare for the end of life whilst they are still fit and well. After all, we only get one chance to have our dying wishes met, so it’s important to share them while we can.

We should break the silence around death and start thinking, talking and planning

The Creating Conversations in Croydon project, commissioned by Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group, seeks to help everyone have a good death by recording their end-of-life wishes. The project uses specially trained, local volunteers who give talks, workshops, presentations and host death cafés (don’t be alarmed – these welcoming sessions are really interesting and sometimes eye-opening chats about life and death over a good cup of coffee!). All of these activities within our borough are designed to help break down the common silence around death, and give the people of Croydon a voice and to start thinking, talking, planning and recording their wishes.

We work with community groups, organisations and businesses within the London Borough of Croydon – so if you would like more information or would like to arrange a talk, please click here.

Creating Conversations is just one of several community projects run by St Christopher’s to help empower local people. Community and education have always been central to what we do.

The international hospice movement began in Sydenham in 1967

It’s a long time ago now, but I was just finishing my training to be a nurse in early 1967 when I first heard about Dame Cicely Saunders’ work to open a dedicated place where the dying would be cared for in a new and holistic way; where attention was paid not only to the person’s physical care but also, and of equal importance, to their spiritual and psychological wellbeing. Since its beginning in 1967, St Christopher’s has been committed to education and research, as well as excellence in clinical care, and Dame Cicely’s pioneering work, which began at St Christopher’s in Sydenham, has now spread across the world as the modern hospice movement.

The founding of St Christopher’s created a huge buzz in the nursing and medical community at the time and, as a nurse, I remember thinking to myself that I’d like to work at St Christopher’s one day. Little did I realise that five decades would pass before this became a reality!

We seek to make people’s lives the best that they can be, at every stage

Today, fifty years after its inception, St Christopher’s cares for the dying in the boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. It’s an amazing place, with inspirational staff who take so much care to make people’s lives the best that they can be, even if they are at the end of their life. If you or a loved one feel a referral to St Christopher’s would be welcomed, please talk to your GP or hospital consultant.

Through extensive teaching programmes, St Christopher’s is also helping people across the UK, and the world, to be better supported when they are dying or bereaved. These issues are so important and often don’t get talked about enough. Don’t leave things unsaid; let’s create some conversations in Croydon together!

Carol Trower

Carol Trower

Carol is a retired health professional and massage therapist. Since her late teens, she has been a volunteer in many capacities at local, national and even international level, as a work placement volunteer and as the immediate past president of the Massage in Schools Association. Currently Carol is an international trainer and project lead for Creating Conversations, a community-development project that is addressing the taboo of death.

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  • Anne Giles

    Not for me thanks. We have made provisions in our Wills and also agreements with each other.

  • Angie Stevens

    They were a great help to my youngest daughter a single parent when she was faced with the news she only had four months to live and was leaving behind her only child who was only 4 at the time. They gave her a place to talk about very painful things to cry and not put on a brave face and practical help sorting out her affairs.