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Children to learn how to cope with death through music project

Victoria Primary School pupils teamed up with patients at nearby St Columba's Hospice in Edinburgh.

By STV News

Published 15 Jun 2019.

Grief and death are often seen as taboo subjects that children should be protected from - but an innovative musical project aims to turn that on its head.

Pupils from Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh teamed up with patients at nearby St Columba's Hospice to confront those difficult conversations, and offer comfort and hope through music.

Children and patients took part in workshops to write songs about how people can cope with death, dying, and illness.

Teachers were also given bereavement training to better equip them to support children when they lose someone close to them, while charity Fischy Music helped the children and patients with song-writing.

This week, the children performed the final songs at a special event at the hospice.

Patient Pamela Curran said the project "meant the world" to her, adding: "The children go through all the emotions as well as the cancer patients, so it was just so lovely to bond."

The team behind the project hope it will encourage the wider community to have more open conversations around death.

Victoria Primary headteacher Laura Thomson said: "It is vital that we talk to children about death.

"Most children will be affected by the death of someone in their family or family friends and they need to know what this means practically and how to deal with this emotionally too.

"We look forward to performing our songs and developing resources for all schools to share."

Donna Hastings, family support worker at St Columba's Hospice, added: "If children are living with any kind of change or if somebody has a terminal illness or if a child has been bereaved, we wanted school to be best placed to support them.

"That means being able to have conversations with them. It also allows the children to talk to each other and to understand how somebody might be feeling."