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Back To School! With BBC Share Your Story

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

When Missing Mother was released in early 2022, I was overwhelmed by the response from listeners.


"it was so poignant"

"it was so moving"

"It was amazing to hear that my experience was not mine alone"


There were also questions asking what I would be doing to move this conversation forward.


I felt very strongly about two things; firstly that this was just the beginning of the conversation around bereavement and approaching the age a parent dies. Secondly that I wanted the message to reach a younger audience too, to express the importance of not sitting on grief but indeed talking about it.


So when I came across the Share Your Story initiative that the BBC were doing, going into schools to share personal stories with a view to empowering, uplifting and inspiring the students, I knew this was a great opportunity to continue the conversation.


Research indicates that telling our story can affect our inner feelings of acceptance, hopefulness or satisfaction, which in turn are related to the potential of developing greater resilience.


In addition, through sharing diverse experiences, students can find commonalities and differences between their lives and that of the other storytellers. Sharing stories helps build connections and foster trust between us.

BBC Share Your Story


In order to get ready to share my story in schools, I underwent two days of BBC training all about storytelling. It was agreed, that the entry point for sharing my story for a younger audience would need to be different from that of an adult Radio 4 audience.


As a result I tapped into an aspect of my story that I hadn't thought about for nearly 30 years. Furthermore the training was exceptional and I met some amazing BBC colleagues with have incredible stories.


I can't put an exact number on it, but I have spoken with thousands of pupils between the ages of 11 and 16 about facing up to difficult feelings.


The question and answer sections have been so moving, I've had to steady myself when asked on a number of separate occasions what advice I would give to someone who had recently lost a parent.

Another standout moment was when triplets came to tell me that their mother had recovered from cancer, but the anxiety they felt when she was unwell had been a lot to deal with and my story was inspirational to them - my goodness.


I can honestly say that speaking in schools has been some of, if not THE most rewarding work I had ever done. The impact of knowing that you could be making a difference to a young person's life is immeasurable.


Along the way I have highlighted a handful of organisations that specialise in supporting families and children who have either been bereaved or are facing bereavement due to a parent or loved one being at the end of their life, I have made a note of them below.


I'm hoping to collaborate with some of these organisations or similar in the future.




https://www.winstonswish.org/

Supporting children, young people (up to 25), and their families when someone dies.


https://www.childbereavementuk.org/

We support children, young people, parents, and families to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies.


https://ruthstraussfoundation.com/

Supporting families facing the death of a parent & driving the need for more research into non-smoking lung cancers.

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