NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 4: Prevention of sudden cardiac death in young adults in the UK

In the fourth of the NFWI resolutions to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, the prevention of sudden cardiac death in young adults in the UK is discussed.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page!

Every week in the UK at least 12 apparently fit and healthy young people die suddenly from undetected cardiac abnormalities. The majority of these deaths are preventable. This meeting urges Her Majesty’s Government to put in place a national strategy for the prevention of young sudden cardiac death to ensure that all young people between the ages of 14 and 35 have access to heart screening by appropriately qualified professionals to identify any potentially life-threatening conditions.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer’s intention is to prevent sudden cardiac death in young people through the implementation of a national prevention, treatment, and research strategy. This includes providing access to heart screening technologies.

Outline of the issue

Young sudden cardiac death (YSCD) is usually defined as ‘death occurring within one hour of the onset of symptoms in a young person without a previously recognised cardiovascular abnormality.’[1] In various forms it is also known as Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS), Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), Sudden Infant Death (SID), or Sudden Unexplained Death (SUD).  For the purposes of this briefing the condition will be referred to as YSCD.

YSCD is one of the biggest killers of young people in the UK; 12 British people between the ages of 14 and 35 die every week from these ‘hidden’ heart complications, often demonstrating no symptoms prior to their death. Indeed a leading cardiologist in Australia explained that in half of the cases of YSCD the ‘first sign of something wrong is when they die.’[2]

The underlying causes of YSCD are fundamentally different than those of sudden cardiac arrest in older adults, which is one of the biggest causes of fatalities worldwide and is responsible for approximately 100,000 deaths in the UK each year. Myocardial infarction, also known as a heart attack, and coronary artery disease are two of the principle underlying causes of sudden cardiac death in adults over 35. For both of these many underlying causes are preventable and linked to lifestyle, rather than genetic predisposition or inherited characteristics. Many cases of heart attacks do not lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

This is markedly different from the underlying causes of YSCD, which are overwhelmingly genetic and do invariably lead to sudden cardiac arrest and then death. Unlike in cases of cardiac arrest solely, the heart does not fail due to a lack of blood supply. Rather, many cases of YSCD result from an inherited predisposition for muscular heart disease or disease of the electrical circuits of the heart, such as an arrhythmia.

It is estimated that in the UK there are over 200,000 young people living with these heart abnormalities, usually unaware and asymptomatic. YSCD is usually precipitated by intense physical activity, although it can strike those who are sedentary. YSCD has been sensationalised in the media because of its rarity and the fact that it strikes famous athletes at the prime of their life while they are playing sport. An example of this is the 2012 case of Fabrice Muamba who nearly died on the football pitch in front of a global audience.

National Prevention and Treatment Strategy

There is currently no national strategy in place for diagnosing, treating, or researching YSCD, which means that those who thankfully survive an attack or those diagnosed with a heart problem often face confusing or contradictory advice on how they should get treatment and the families of those that have died from YSCD are often left with no answers or bereavement support. The campaigning group Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) is calling for a national strategy to be implemented to combat YSCD and synchronise government policy on the disease, a four pronged strategy consisting of screening, support, awareness, and research.[3]

The utility of a national screening programme or one directed solely at athletes to detect those with heart abnormalities remains the subject of much debate.[4] Campaigners argue that a large proportion of these deaths can be prevented as these heart abnormalities can be detected by an electrocardiogram (ECG), a non-intrusive test that evaluates the electrical and muscular functions of the heart. Screening young and ostensibly healthy people will pick up minor abnormalities in around 1% of the population and serious, potentially life-threatening abnormalities in .3% (almost one in three hundred) of the population. CRY recommends that screening be made available to every fourteen year old and they cite the national Italian screening programme (in place since 1971) which has reduced the rate of YSCD by 89% among those involved in competitive sport as proof that screening works.

However, detractors argue that both the efficacy and feasibility of a screening programme to detect YSCD remains in doubt and, therefore, should not be implemented. They further allege that the Italian case is predicated on faulty data.[5] Instead, many argue that screening not only does not detect all heart abnormalities, but actually has a twenty per cent false positive rate.[6] Further, they argue that screening is extremely cost-inefficient. For example, the American College of Cardiology concluded that conducting electrocardiographic screening of all young competitive athletes in the US could cost up to $69 billion over a twenty-year period and save 4,813 lives, making the cost per life saved between ten and fourteen million dollars.[7] Further studies in the United States have concluded that there is no direct evidence that an ECG or any other cardiovascular screening programme will reduce the incidence of YSCD in any of the ‘at risk’ populations.

This position is supported by the National Screening Committee with their July 2015 recommendation that a universal screening programme for the young not be implemented because:

  • ‘There are a number of uncertainties over the test, the conditions that cause SCD, and the overall benefit of identifying those at risk when weighed against the potential harms.
  • There is very little research into the reliability of the tests for identifying those at risk of SCD
  • There is no agreed treatment or care pathway for supporting those who have been identified at risk of SCD.’[8]

The National Screening Committee will review this decision in 2018/2019. This decision has been met with dismay by campaigners, advocates of screening, and some paediatric cardiologists who argue that doing nothing is not an option. Advocates for screening also argue that the NSC recommendation is fundamentally at odds with notable bodies, such as the European Society of Cardiology, which recommends mandatory screening for athletes. Following the tragic July 2015 death of footballer Junior Dian from YSCD, sports minister Tracey Couch stated in Parliament that she would be examining a prevention strategy that included screening.

Arguments for the resolution

  • Many of the barriers that the National Screening Committee have identified can be overcome; now is the time to act before the 2018/2019 review of screening policies to build the robust evidence base and treatment and care pathway that the Committee identifies as necessary.
  • These tragic deaths are preventable; is doing nothing really an option?
  • Other nations like Italy and Israel have instituted screening programmes. Even though the United States does not have mandatory screening, it does have a system in place for detecting at risk individuals involved in athletics. The UK must explore options along these lines to prevent the needless deaths of young people.

Arguments against the resolution

  • The National Screening Committee has just recommended against a national screening programme to detect SCD in July 2015. This resolution directly contravenes current government policy that will not change until the 2018/2019 review.
  • Although these deaths are tragic and senseless, they are miniscule in comparison to those who perish from other heart diseases. Might the WI have a greater impact campaigning on wider heart health issues?

Groups to contact for further information

Cardiac Risk in the Young

Unit 1140B The Axis Centre, Cleeve Road, Leatherhead, KT22 7RD

Tel: 01737 363222



British Heart Foundation

Lyndon Place, 2096 Coventry Road, Sheldon, Birmingham, B26 3YU

Tel: 020 7554 0000



UK National Screening Committee Secretariat

Floor 2, Zone B, Skipton House, 80 London Road, London, SE1 6LH

Tel: 020 3682 0890



[1] M Montagnana, G Lippi, M Franchini, G Banfi, GC Guido. “Sudden Cardiac Death in Young Athletes.” Internal Medicine 47, no. 15 (2008): 1373-1378.

[2] “Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Up to Five Australians under 35 die each week”

[3] Their national strategy objectives were outlined in their 2015 election manifesto:

[4] More a comprehensive overview of some of the recent evidence and literature pertaining to screening for SCD see: Mark S. Link and N.A. Mark Estes III, “Sudden Cardiac Death in the Athlete: Bridging the Gap Between Evidence, Policy, and Practice,” Circulation 125 (2012): 2511-2516

[5] Critics argue that the Italian study does not definitively prove that sustained use of ECG screening is effective. Principally, they argue that the methodology of the study is flawed because it was not a controlled comparison of screened versus unscreened populations, but was a population based observational study and also did not compare ECG screening to non-ECG screening methods, such as physicals.

[6] British Heart Foundation, “Policy Statement: Cardiac Screening for Professional Athletes”:

[7] A Halkin, A. Steilvil, R. Rosso, A. Adler, U Rozovski, S. Viskin, “Preventing sudden deaths of athletes with electrocardiographic screening: what is the absolute benefit and how much will it cost?,” Journal of the American College of Cardiology 60, no. 22 (Dec. 2012): 2271-6.

[8]  National Screening Committee Recommendation on Screening:

NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 3: Free sanitary protection for homeless women

In the third of the NFWI resolutions to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, free sanitary protection for homeless women is discussed.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page!

“We call upon WIs to campaign for homeless shelters to be provided with a funding allowance to enable them to provide sanitary protection (tampons and towels) for homeless women.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer’s intention is to ensure that homeless shelters adequately provide for the needs of homeless women with respect to menstruation in the same way they do for other items deemed essential and in doing so address a great inequity in how the needs of homeless women are currently assessed. While items such as condoms and razors are routinely provided to homeless shelters, sanitary ware is not consistently offered, meaning that women in shelters are often forced to choose between spending their limited income on food or sanitary towels. This resolution seeks to mobilise WI members to campaign for national and local authorities to make  provisions within their commissioning arrangements to provide free sanitary protection for women accessing homeless shelters.

Outline of the issue

Homelessness is on the rise in the UK. Government statistics show that between 2011 and 2012 alone the number of people categorised as homeless grew by ten per cent and more troubling, the number of the people recorded as sleeping rough has risen by thirty-seven per cent over the last five years. At the same time as homelessness is rising, funding for support for the homeless is being cut at both local and national levels.

The homeless advocacy group and charity St.Mungo’s Broadway highlights that most services for the homeless are catered towards men, who comprise the majority of those homeless or sleeping rough. However, in 2013 women comprised slightly more than one-quarter (26%) of the homeless population, a significant percentage. Experts also believe that many more women are what they term ‘hidden homeless’, never encountering formalised support services. Yet, despite their high numbers, the funding for services targeted at women is woefully inadequate, disproportionate, and heading in the wrong direction. For example, the funding for support services for women actually fell from 12% of the total budget in 2011 to only 8% in 2013.

Why are women homeless?

Research from St. Mungo’s has concluded that ‘women who are homeless have a number of severe, interrelated and exceptionally complex problems which contribute to their homelessness and make recovery challenging.’ Their research into the life experiences of their homeless women clients has demonstrated that:

  • 44% were the victims of domestic abuse (with 32% saying that their abuse contributed to their homelessness)
  • 19% experienced abuse as children
  • 70% had mental health problems (often stemming from their experiences of abuse)
  • 48% had a substance abuse problem
  • Over 33% had experience of prostitution
  • 49% are mothers (79% of whom have had their children taken into care or adopted)
  • 42% have an offending history
  • 6% were pregnant

It is clear from the above figures that homeless women are a particularly vulnerable group of women, characterised by experiences of domestic or childhood abuse and poor mental health.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Women have unique needs as women that homelessness services are systematically and consistently failing to address. Homelessness services are often configured around the male service user, which helps explain why condoms and razors are often provided to homeless shelters free of charge for male use, but sanitary ware for female use is not. ‘Kits’ for the homeless that are donated often also include items for dental care and shaving, but not for when women have their periods. If shelters do provide sanitary ware, many women report feeling too embarrassed to ask for it. At the moment shelters can request condoms free of charge from the NHS, but sanitary ware is not considered to have medical utility so it is not freely provided by the NHS.

Arguments for the resolution

• If WI members don’t speak up for vulnerable women, no one will. Members have shown through past campaigning for women’s refuges that the WI can make a tangible difference in the lives of women displaced from their homes due to violence and abuse.

• The reality of menstruation for homeless women is often demeaning because their needs are not fully taken into account. This resolution seeks to rebalance the services shelters provide to better reflect the needs of women, while also educating members of the public that sanitary ware items should be donated to shelters along with other needed items.

• In addition to national campaigning, with the WI’s network of groups across England, Wales, and the Islands members could raise awareness and support efforts to ensure that local shelters have access to these products.

Arguments against the resolution

• A nationwide campaign was already launched earlier this year by three advertising agency interns who, shocked after reading an article about the humiliation and suffering if women on the streets, decided to take action. Their website- The Homeless Period- has secured over 100,000 signatures for their petition for free sanitary products.

• In the current fiscal climate, with cuts to shelters across the board, is now an appropriate time to call for this?

• Homeless women face a multitude of interrelated problems- should awareness and support be directed at those issues, such as poor mental health or sexual abuse, instead?

Groups to contact for further information

The Homeless Period



St Mungo’s Broadway

Griffin House, 161 Hammersmith Road, London W6 8BS

Tel: 020 8762 5500









NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 2: British fruit: reviving our heritage

In the second of the NFWI resolutions to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, the revival of British fruit in local communities is discussed.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page!

20151212 02 British fruit“This meeting calls on the WI to spearhead a national campaign that creates a fruit revival in local communities, celebrates our WI roots, promotes health, addresses food security and reduces the carbon footprint.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer’s intention is for the WI to get back in touch with our roots by leading a national campaign to revive the consumption, harvesting, and growing of British fruit. The proposer believes we import too much fruit from abroad while British fruit goes to waste and further, that we lack the skills to grow and preserve our own food meaning that Britons are losing touch with British fruit. This resolution seeks to address those gaps while also promoting food security, healthy eating, responsible environmental stewardship, and community cohesion: core WI values.

Outline of the issue

While the UK currently enjoys a high level of food-security, there are some alarming trends.  According to the House of Commons Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee the UK is currently only 68% self-sufficient in foods that can be produced here. This percentage has steadily declined over the last twenty years.

Fruit and vegetables have witnessed the biggest drop in self-sufficiency. For fruit the situation is particularly dire; the UK is only 12% self-sufficient in fruit production. In 2012, the UK imported £8 billion worth of fruit and vegetables and 88% of fresh fruit is imported and that percentage is rising. Most of these imports occur in the out-of-season months (November-June) however for some fruit it remains relatively high even during the height of UK seasonal production.

Fruit production is one key area that experts have identified where the government needs to do more to increase domestic production. However, it is important to note that it would not be in the UK’s interest to become fully self-sufficient in indigenous food as our food security depends on diversity of supply for resilience.

As noted by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, the UK’s food security depends on a vibrant, innovative and professional UK farming sector. A number of surveys highlight the growing skills gap in horticulture. In its 2013 report the Horticulture Matters industry group (formed to tackle the skills shortage) highlighted that 72% of horticultural business surveyed could not fill vacancies, 70% of 18-year-olds thought horticultural careers were only for those who were not academic, and 50% of under-25s saw horticulture as an unskilled career. This is concerning for an industry that is facing an ageing workforce.

In 2012, consumers in the UK wasted 1.1 million tonnes of fruit, making fruit the second largest food category in terms of domestic wastage. Therefore, in addition to not growing our own fruit, we are wasting the fruit we do have, both of which have a negative effect on economic growth and the environment.

Not only is this bad news for British growers, but it is also bad for the consumer in terms of taste and nutritional value. As fruits can spoil during transportation due to handling, packaging, and overall journey time, some experts claim that the modifications made to fruit to help them survive the journey lower their nutritional value and can alter their taste. The number one challenge to our food security is the extreme weather events that are caused by climate change. Therefore a solution to secure our food supply is needed that mitigates those risks as well. The global food industry is one of the largest net contributors to green-house gas emissions and a chief contributor to deforestation. Buying locally grown foods can counter those effects.

Arguments for the resolution

• There is a growing skills shortage in the agriculture and horticulture industry which will have a growing impact on the UK’s food security. The NFWI is best placed to promote a revival of education and engagement in the sector.

• One of the principal outcomes from the WI’s Great Food Debates was that people in the UK have lost their connection to food – how it is grown/produced, how it fits within a healthy diet, and what makes a sustainable environment.

• This resolution is a return to the WI’s roots, and has the potential for WIs across the country to mobilise their extensive local networks to bring community members together to teach new skills in food production and harvesting, learn about healthy eating and environmental stewardship, and contribute to the nation’s domestic food supply.

Arguments against the resolution

• This resolution encompasses a number of issues (food production, food security, healthy eating) that the WI is already working on or has recently worked on. Is this resolution redundant?

• This resolution merges a number of complex issues, which may confuse members and stakeholders.

Groups to contact for further information

Incredible Edible Network

Unit 9, The Town Hall, St George’s Street, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7BY

Tel: 0781 8570177



British Growers Association

BGA House, Nottingham Road, Louth, Lincolnshire, LN11 0WB

Tel: 01507 602427




• Food Security, 2014

• Horticulture Matters, 2013

• Food security: demand, consumption and waste. EFRA committee 2015

NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016 – Resolution Number 1: Ban the microbead

In the first of the NFWI resolutions to be presented to Sotonettes members for ballot, the use of microbeads is debated.


Sotonettes members are entitled to vote on this issue; for more information, click here, or download a handy booklet here. Or visit our Facebook page.

“Beach litter and floating plastic debrisMicrobeads is more than just an unsightly problem. Scientific research shows that plastic microbeads, found in cosmetic and personal care products, are polluting the oceans and causing long- term health risks for both aquatic life and people. We call on WI members to take action to reduce use of plastic microbead-containing products in their own homes and communities; to raise awareness of the problems associated with plastic microbeads; and to lobby manufacturers, retailers and see the UK Government following in the steps of the Netherlands and other countries in proposing a ban on the use of these products.”

Proposer’s position

The proposer’s intention is to highlight the impact of microbeads on marine ecosystems, encourage behaviour change, build consumer pressure on companies to change their practices, and work towards a ban on the use of microbeads in the UK.

Outline of the issue

‘Microbeads’ are microplastic particles that are found in cosmetic and personal care products. Overwhelmingly, they are made of polyethylene (93%) with the rest made of polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, polytetrafluoroethylene, and nylon. Natural alternatives to the use of microbeads include oatmeal, sea salt, and ground nutshells. Microbeads measure less than a millimetre wide, which means they cannot be filtered out at water treatment plants and so end up in rivers and oceans.

With each use of products such as facial scrubs releasing up to 100,000 microbeads, recent research by the University of Plymouth estimates that up to 80 tonnes of microbeads could end up entering waterways every year from using such products in the UK alone. Once in the water, the plastic acts like a sponge, soaking up toxins (e.g. pesticides and flame retardants) that have also found their way into the ecosystem, creating a concentrated source of toxic chemicals, which are then eaten by a range of marine organisms (such as commercially important fish and shellfish to baleen whales). Microplastics account for around 10% of all reported ingestion of marine debris, with particular impact on organisms with a range of feeding methods such as filter feeders (mussels and barnacles), deposit feeders (lugworms) and detritivores (sea cucumbers) and zooplankton. Organisms are often confused between microplastics and plankton, especially given the plastic concentration in the water. Basking sharks have been estimated to consume approximately 13,110 microplastic items per day and Mediterranean fin whales approximately 3,653 items.

In the UK, 83% of Norway lobsters (which are often sold as scampi) sampled contained microplastic debris. In the English Channel, 36.5% of sampled fish, including whiting and mackerel, had ingested plastic. In the Mediterranean, plastic ingestion was found in 18.2% of Bluefin tuna and albacore tuna. A range of studies show that adverse effects of microplastic ingestion include decreased feeding, weight loss, decreased energy reserves, compromised fitness, hepatic stress, impaired health, and potentially starvation over time.

This has important implications not just for marine ecosystems but also humans. Healthy oceans are essential for thriving marine ecosystems, livelihoods and economies both in the UK and globally. Additionally, there is growing concern that the microbeads and the toxic chemicals they accumulate are making their way up the food chain to people, with the consequences of this build up for human health largely unknown.

Prevention is key. Once in the marine environment particles react with the ecosystem and become embedded in the seabed, shoreline and plant matter – making clean-up operations labour intensive, time-consuming, and costly. UNEP recommends a precautionary approach toward microplastic management, with the eventual phase out and ban of plastics in cosmetics and personal care products. Public pressure campaigns, such as Beat the Microbead and Scrub it Out, have persuaded many companies to commit to phasing out microplastics. Despite these pledges, campaigners are still calling for legislative action to speed up the process, ensure that commitments are maintained, and provide a level playing field for manufacturers.

There has been some movement in legislating against microbeads in the US, with California being the most recent state to ban microbeads. The Netherlands has announced its intention to be virtually free of microbeads in cosmetics by the end of 2016, Australian policymakers are calling for a formal ban, and in January of this year Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden issued a joint call to ban the use of microplastics in personal care products, with the aim of protecting marine ecosystems, including seafood, from contamination. In the US, there has been resistance to legal bans from certain brands that argue that micro-size plastic in the water supply can come from other byproducts, such as synthetic fabric. In addition, microbeads can be found in some non-cosmetic products and processes. There have also been some concern around the terminology used in the legislation which campaigners are worried might create potential loop-holes. For instance, some bans have qualifying phrases (e.g. “rinse off personal care products”) which exclude a number of products (e.g. deodorants and cleaners).

Arguments for the resolution

• While microbeads are only one aspect of marine litter, due to their presence and quantity in products and their resistance to degradation, their abundance in the ocean is assumed to be increasing. Additionally, this is a type of marine pollution that is avoidable.

• This resolution encompasses a strong role for consumer action, both by bringing pressure to companies that have yet to make a commitment, as well as showing support for those that have. This consumer action fits the WI ethos of practical action.

• This resolution fits within the WI’s longstanding concern for healthy and sustainable marine ecosystems.

Arguments against the resolution

• There are still gaps in research and understanding around the precise impact of microbeads on marine ecosystems.

• This resolution focuses specifically on cosmetic and personal care products, while microbeads can also be found in other products such as paint or sand-blasting.

• While there is a lack of consumer awareness of the problem, campaigns such as Beat the Microbead are growing in success.

Groups to contact for further information

Beat the Microbead (a Plastic Soup Foundation initiative)

Van Hallstraat 52-1, 1051 HH Amsterdam

Tel: +31 (0)85 401 6244



Fauna & Flora International

Jupiter House, 4th Floor, Station Road, Cambridge, CB1 2JD

Tel: 1223 571 000

Twitter logo v small@FaunaFloraInt


Marine Conservation Society

Overross House, Ross Park, Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 7QQ

Tel: 01989 566017

Twitter logo v small@mcsuk


• NFWI 2016 Annual Meeting Resolution Shortlist Briefings note

• Napper (2015)

• EIA 2015

• Napper 2015

• State of Europe’s seas, 2015

• EIA 2015

• State of Europe’s seas, 2015

• UNEP (2015) Plastic in cosmetics: are we polluting the environment through our personal care Fact sheet


• Rochman, 2015



The Sotonettes Present… NFWI Resolutions Shortlist 2016!

Hot on the heels of celebrating 100 years, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) has recently unveiled the shortlist of eight new resolutions for NFWI campaigns, to be discussed in 2016.

Now it’s up to Sotonettes members to help select which resolutions go forward to the 2016 NFWI Annual Meeting, as each WI across the country will be collecting votes from members and submitting them to the local federations. These votes in turn will be passed to the NFWI, who are keen to refresh the resolutions process after the outcome of the 2015 AGM.

To help Sotonettes members decide, we will be publishing the details of one resolution per day between today and the next Sotonettes main meeting on 15 December at The Slug & Lettuce, Above Bar, Southampton. We’ll be discussing these resolutions further at the main meeting, and there will also be an opportunity to cast your vote. You can also download a helpful Sotonettes guide on the whole process here!

If you are a Sotonettes member but you can’t make December’s main meeting, or if you have any queries about the resolutions process and how your vote counts, email or drop us a line on our Facebook page!

The shortlist of resolution titles for 2016 is:

  1. Ban the microbead
  2. British fruit: reviving our heritage
  3. Free sanitary protection for homeless women
  4. Prevention of sudden cardiac death in young adults in the UK
  5. First aid to save lives
  6. Mind or body – equal funding for care
  7. Avoid food waste, address food poverty
  8. Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia

We look forward to hearing your opinions and receiving your votes!

Love, The Sotonettes Committee


Sotonettes do Death Cafe






Now, this idea may sound strange to some, but it made for a fascinating evening. As a taboo subject in our society, it was great to discuss death matters with others; topics covered included different ways of having a funeral service, such as in a community centre or football stadium, with a homemade or personalised coffin. I didn’t know other locations besides churches can be used for services, and not being religious in the least myself, this was good to find out. We also shared personal experiences such as the deaths of our own loved ones, what we think makes a good funeral, and then more medical matters like assisted dying and palliative care. Also we chatted about the Mexican festival Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertos, where they celebrate the loved ones they’ve lost with decorations like sugar skulls.

There was a great mix of Sotonettes members and non, which made for a wide ranging discussion with lots of views raised. I felt there was a combination of serious and light hearted chat, with respect given to those who shared personal stories and also humour when it occurred.

Day of the Dead Sugar skulls

Day of the Dead Sugar skulls








Death Cafe is an international social franchise, run by a group of volunteers, where groups of people come together to discuss matters related to death in an informal way; it’s not a therapy session but can help people to discuss issues they may not otherwise feel able to, as it is a sensitive subject in our society. Death is a huge part of life but is often tricky to raise in everyday conversation, which is one of the aims of the cafe, to embrace it and make it more open to discussion. I definitely feel more able to chat about it without feeling uncomfortable, knowing there are like-minded people out there. Now, if only I could pick a song for my funeral!


For more info about Death Cafes, their website is:


Sotonettes committee