The Death Café with People First

Supporting people who have a learning disability to understand and manage illness and death

There’s still a massive stigma surrounding death and conversations about this inevitable part of life can be really difficult, especially for people who have a learning disability. It’s often the case that people who have a learning disability feel left out of death; they’re sometimes excluded from making funeral arrangements for themselves and conversations about loved ones who are sick and dying. This way of ‘protecting people’ can actually be really damaging to their mental health so it’s important that we make planning for death and illness more accessible for everyone.

Our first People First Death Café

Last week people supported by our Making Days day centre services in Liverpool gathered together for a People First Death Café. People First is an amazing Merseyside organisation ran by people with learning disabilities. Their mission is to empower people with learning disabilities to have a voice, to learn and to grow. They offer education, counselling and advocacy. Their death cafes are all about supporting people who have a learning disability to have important conversations about death and illness, to feel more educated and informed on death and to remember people they have lost. The session fittingly fell on Remember Me Day, part of Grief Awareness Week.

Meet Siobhan and Robert from People First, explaining why it’s so important to talk about death, whether this your own death or the death of a loved one:


Having important conversations about death and illness

It was a really empowering day for all involved. People First delivered a thought-provoking play about a friend who had died and people discussing plans for her funeral and how she’d like to be remembered around her. There were loads of activities supporting people to open up about life and death; things people would like to accomplish before they die, what songs people would like to played at their funeral, how their perfect last day on Earth would be spent and who they’d like to talk at their funeral. There was also a chance to reflect on loved ones lost, remembering what people loved about that person and treasuring their memory by sticking their reflections on a special ‘memory tree’.

Everyone took something different from the session depending on what worked for them. For everyone, there was a chance for plenty of fun too. Light-hearted music covering the theme of life and death like ‘Ring of fire’ and ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ blasted with people getting up for a boogie; there was a chance to colour in sugar skulls and funeral flowers; and the day finished with a quiz looking at some of the less serious phrases and euphemisms associated with death – the likes of ‘kicked the bucket’ and ‘pushing up daisies’.

Check out some highlights:

Support us and People First in making planning for death and illness more accessible for everyone

What an inspiring day challenging the norm and tackling death head-on as part of our Big Plan mission to support people with planning for death and illness more accessibly. To find out more about the Death Cafe concept and hosting your own, contact our pals at People First or

Want to support people to influence, to lead change and to inspire in their local community? Check out our support worker jobs in Merseyside.