“I want to leave my story. Even though it was mainly shit. You can transform shit into manure. I’d like my experiences to help future generations… The most important symbol for me is the pebble, falling into a pool of life. It makes a ripple, for better and for worse. Don’t underestimate your ripple!"
Supporting people to explore the value of their life experiences for themselves and for others.
Everyone’s experiences are worth sharing, however small or insignificant they might seem. The ripple you cause will make a difference to someone. 'Ripples' uses dialogue and story-telling to help people to explore the value of their lives and experiences for themselves and to others. We want to help people find a sense of worth and connection, by showing how each of our experiences are valuable to others. We do this by providing space for people to be heard, helping them to find what they feel is valuable, and capturing it as messages to keep for themselves, or to pass on to others.
'Ripples' was one of the solutions from Better Endings, a year long innovation programme focused on creating new solutions for end of life care. Everybody deserves great support for themselves and for their families at the end of their lives. This doesn’t always happen. Working with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, we set out to bring together end of life care experts with members of the community to mobilise a new vision for ‘better endings’.
It can often be hard for people to recognise what’s valuable about their life experiences. People can struggle to see the mark they left on the world, their contribution to society. What do they feel they have to leave behind to others? People around them might feel unequipped to help, or there might not be anyone around to help them make sense when times are difficult.
"I’m dying, I’m in the last lap. I’m not religious, so this is it. I’m not happy it’s coming to an end. It’s the last chapter. I feel like I haven’t done enough with my life. Never really figured out what I was good at."
“Life is short term for these guys. When someone doesn’t come back, they’re easily forgotten. No one asks for them anymore. It’s assumed they are either in the hospital, in prison or dead. They become a rumour. When I have to arrange a funeral, I’d love for the priest to be able to say something personal. They haven’t always sat on a bench, they’ve done stuff! But getting them to say anything positive about themselves is difficult. The worthlessness they feel.”
Sarah, manager of Ace of Clubs, centre for the homeless and vulnerable community
To know what needs to change, we first needed to understand how death and dying in experienced at the moment. We had in depth conversations to understand, in a holistic sense, the things that people want and need when they are dying, caring and grieving a loss. Find a couple of the stories here:
We created a space for a diverse, expert group to come together and think differently, supporting them to design and prototype new solutions for better endings. We involved over 200 people: clinical and care professionals, commissioners and policy-makers, voluntary and community organisations and people with experience of living and dying in Southwark and Lambeth.
For 'Ripples' we worked in 3 different contexts to develop and test a model that works for everyone. We worked with a centre for the homeless and vulnerable community, with a nursing home, and with a charity for the older LGBT+ community.
Whilst Better Endings focused on South East London, the insights we surfaced and approaches we developed should be of much-wider interest. Take a look at this output from our programme. I hope it inspires conversation and action in your own environment:
'Ripples' has been implemented at:
St. Mungo's, a charity and housing organisation working directly every day with people who are sleeping rough, in hostels and at risk of homelessness.
Ace of Clubs, a centre supporting the homeless and vulnerable community.