Plymouth - A Compassionate City

St Luke’s Hospice recently held a day conference exploring what it would look like for Plymouth to become a Compassionate City and I was pleased to attend part of it.

You might wonder what a ‘Compassionate City’ is - before the event, I did too.

According to the Compassionate City Charter, a Compassionate City is ‘a community which recognises that care for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services but is everyone’s responsibility.’ 

It makes sense when you see it written down, but to see this vision become reality is going to require communities working together and partnerships being built across a wide variety of sectors and stakeholders in the city. It’s about working together to promote excellent public health and end of life care.

If you’re like me, you’ll find it easy to imagine end of life care affecting those you know - both the elderly and those who sadly develop terminal illnesses earlier in their lives. However, in thinking through what it would look like to be a compassionate city, the conference also explored the provision of end of life care for the homeless and those in our prisons as well as challenging us to be on the look out for those in our neighbourhoods who might be struggling but who we might not know personally. All thought provoking stuff.

Once you drill down into how we could create a Compassionate Community in Plymouth it is easy to get bogged down by the sheer number of stakeholder groups we will need to work with. However, I believe it is a concept worth exploring as, whatever our life circumstances, the one thing we all have in common is our human mortality - we will all die one day. 

A project like this requires leadership. We are very fortunate that St.Luke’s has offered to provide that inclusive leadership. They have the skill and respect to make this happen. 

Some excellent round robin discussion groups took place during the conference enabling specific groups to look at how they could develop their compassionate community. What it would look like for our schools, workplaces, places of worship, our creative communities, those seeking to promote inclusion, those working with dementia sufferers each to develop as compassionate communities and reach out to those around them. This now needs to be moulded into an action plan and St. Luke’s will be undertaking this vital work. I have offered my full support and help. 

Working together to make sure we better care for those who are nearing the end of their life has to be something we pursue - who doesn’t want to know that the community around us will look after us when our time on this Earth comes to an end. 

Compassionate Plymouth is something I’d like to see established and I will keep working with St Luke’s Hospice to help them see their vision become a reality.