Our work with schools

The Dragonfly Project is an example of our work with schools; community education scheme that reduces anxiety and opens up conversations about death and grief. A partnership between Dorothy House and Winsley Primary School, this creative project invites Year 6 pupils to the Hospice to take part in a series of creative arts workshops as an opportunity to learn and understand topics related to palliative illness.

Conversations about death and grief

The Dragonfly Project plays a crucial role in actively destigmatising death, creating a safe and supportive space for children to explore this challenging topic. Feedback from our 2023 project shared stories of children going home to have conversations are death and dying which has been helpful for families dealing with palliative illness and or bereavement.

Navigating change

Taking place as a series of four workshops over a month, the Dragonfly Project aims to place an emphasis on change and journey, for both the children and patients, as the children move on to secondary school and patients receiving a diagnosis which may impact their lives in different ways.

As well as this, the project brings us closer to the community, demystifying what happens at the Hospice.

In 2023, the project returned after a hiatus of four years due to Covid, and over the four weeks, the children spent time with Ros and Bethan, our Creative Therapy team, making artwork with staff, volunteers and day patients.

Workshop overview

Week 1

During week one, the focus is on the children and patients getting to know each other, and discovering how Dorothy House supports patients, carers and families.

Weeks 2 & 3

During the next two sessions, we invite the children on a tour of the Hospice at Winsley. We also plan a creative activity for the children with our Creative Therapies team.

Week 4

In the final week, the children’s parents are invited to the Hospice to celebrate all that has been achieved over the course of the project.

Dorothy House Ambassadors for Young People

Charity Ambassador Sir Al Aynsley Green, a trained children’s physician, clinical scientist, and ex-President of the British Medical Association, has been a champion for improving the lives of children and young people, of which he has spent many years channelling his wealth of experience into.

Our Young People Ambassadors Seb Chester-Phillips and Jess Sheridan both have shared experiences of navigating grief in school, and have shared their first-hand experiences of the vital role Dorothy House can play at the end of life. Below they share their stories of working closely with the Hospice’s bereavement services and their investment in supporting schools development programmes to better support young people with grief.

Sir Al Aynsley Green

“A child today across the U.K. experiences the death of a parent every 20 minutes and with proper understanding and support they can lead successful and confident lives; Dorothy House’s outstanding family support is needed urgently and deserves to be successful.”

Seb Chester-Phillips - Young People's Ambassador

“If my experience can help kids, who are in similar situations that I was once in, regain their sense of enthusiasm and fulfilment, I’d be over the moon. I also relish at the idea of discussing ways that schools can best support, comfort and strengthen any pupils that are struggling with grief.”

Jess Sheridan - Young People's Ambassador

“Since my Mum died, Dorothy House has supported me at every step. I am passionate about seeing grievers like me understood and not alone – and want to be an Ambassador especially for children and young people, whose stories are invaluable and should be heard.”

Jess's work with Dorothy House

After her mum’s death when she was just 19, Jess worked with Dorothy House’s Family Support Team to navigate her own bereavement journey and volunteered her time to support Dorothy House in a variety of crucial ways, such as our work with schools. Jess’s amazing work for Dorothy House was recognised at the Hospice UK national volunteering awards ceremony at the Arena and Convention Centre in Liverpool on 7 November.

“By generously sharing her personal experience of losing her mum as a teenager, Jess has offered advice to other bereaved young people, acting as a role model and helping them to connect and support each other. Thank you, Jess, for you dedication and hard work.” – CEO of Hospice UK, Toby Porter

Read the full blog about Jess's award

Seb Chester-Phillips and the Dorothy House Nature Trail

Our Young Person’s Ambassador, Seb Chester-Phillips visited our Interactive Nature Trail just before it opened on 19 May and shared his personal reflections on what nature means to him since the death of his mum, Amanda in 2016. Seb is generously using his personal experience of losing his mum aged 12, not only to offer support to young people who are sadly grieving the death of a parent but also to help educate and inform our community about the importance of destigmatising death for young people.

Discover Interactive Nature Trail