News & Latest 24.05.2022

Dying Matters Awareness Week: A play and poem exploring the Compassionate Communities approach to end of life

In time for Dying Matters Awareness Week (2 - 6 May 2022), The NIHR ARC East of England (ARC EoE), University of East Anglia and the Halesworth-based charity The Pear Tree Fund commissioned a poem and an audio play, exploring the Compassionate Communities approach to palliative and end of life care.

Compassionate Communities is a global movement pioneered by Professor Allan Kellehear. It takes a public health approach to dying, death, loss, and long-term care giving and aims to prevent or reduce the social comorbidities that can occur in parallel to life limiting illness. A person with a life-limiting illness has contact with statutory care services up to 5% of any day. Compassionate Community initiatives seek to offer support in the remaining 95%. This social approach to end-of-life care  seeks to spread a concept known as death literacy – which is practical know-how about what to do and where to find support in a palliative or end-of-life care context. 

The poem and play that ARC EoE commissioned both provide a candid and poignant platform to address vital subjects, such as fear and stigma surrounding the end-of-life and practical information on ways the local community can offer support during this challenging time in peoples’ lives.

Dr Guy Peryer, research fellow with the ARC EoE Palliative and End of Life Care Theme, worked closely with both creative teams, and provided briefs to the writers to ensure the Compassionate Communities and public health approach was accurately represented in these creative multi-media explorations.

Find out more about the Compassionate Communities approach in the ARC EoE Palliative and End of Life Care Theme’s research project: Compassionate Communities: A public health approach to palliative and end of life care

‘You’ll Be Fine’

'You’ll Be Fine' is a play highlighting the importance of close relationship:

Listen to the play here


Ann Bryson (left) & Flora Douglas (right) performing 'You'll Be Fine' play

You'll Be Fine is a new commission between INK Festival, The Pear Tree Fund and ARC EoE, highlighting the importance of close relationships in helping us live well until we die and reducing the fear and stigma surrounding the end of life.

Play synopsis:

A worrying prognosis is not the only problem that troubles Lynda. The way her family digest the news proves almost as challenging.

Written by Jan Etherington

Music by Denis King

Cast: Ann Bryson, Flora Douglas, Hilary Greatorex, Rob Jarvis, Roderick Smith

Director/Producer: Paul Heiney and Roderick Smith


Ann Bryson (left) & Flora Douglas (right) performing 'You'll Be Fine' play

We Are Here’

'We Are Here' is a video poem that raises awareness of how Compassionate Communities can offer vital practical and emotional support to local people at challenging times of need:

Remote video URL

Poem synopsis:

As part of his research and to generate authentic content for the poem, Dean Parkin interviewed people connected with Halesworth Compassionate Communities and also attended group sessions at the Pear Tree Centre in Halesworth. He heard first-hand accounts – from individual clients, family members, carers and volunteers – of illness, disability, life-changing diagnosis and bereavement, and of how Pear Tree can help people achieve a better quality of life and their best possible death.

The poem is written and narrated by Dean Parkin and produced by Poetry People

‘We Are Here’ was filmed and edited by Alex Jeffery of Creative Nation, the music was composed and performed by pianist Maurice Horhut, and the producer was Naomi Jaffa.

Special thanks to John Appleton and Sally-Ann Burnett for their participation in filming.

'We Are Here' was commissioned by NIHR ARC East of England/UEA and The Pear Tree Fund on behalf of Halesworth Compassionate Community.

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