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Sarah Owens continues her bereavement training in Manchester

Feb 11, 2019

Congratulations to Sarah Owens, Lecturer in Adult Nursing from the School of Health and Society, who has been delivering bereavement and loss training to teachers, teaching assistants and pastoral staff in both primary and secondary schools since 2015, with over 300 staff attending the sessions to date.

Usually, the established training that Sarah offers is on the other side of the North West, covering areas such as Liverpool, St Helens and Wigan. However, since meeting with Manchester Teaching Alliance, she has managed to encourage Manchester schools to get involved, all down to the incredible relationship she has created with the Alliance. Sarah’s first Manchester session is on 28 February – here she will continue to use her expertise to help teachers, teaching assistants and pastoral staff recognise when children are grieving, the different types of loss young people can experience, and they can support those children in the classroom.

Sarah’s background prior to coming to work at the University, was within specialist palliative and end of life care in both a clinical role (nursing) and latterly in an education role for 18 years. She taught post qualified colleagues in their clinical role supporting with those experiencing loss and grief. Sarah’s son dealt with the bereavement of his father five years ago at the age of 9 and his last year of primary school was a hard experience for him.

She commented: “Our lived experience of this adds an extra layer of my appreciation not only of the needs of the bereaved child in the school environment, but also the needs of the teacher offering the child support. Providing this kind of training is vital, as most schools will have at least one child who has experienced the death of someone close, with a significant proportion of children experiencing the death of a parent by the age of 16. Yet only 10% of teachers receive bereavement and loss training and this needs to change given the statistics around child bereavement. Therefore, I felt it was really important to get the training into the Manchester schools that are in the footprint around the University”.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the University to collaborate with other fellow educational professionals in the community whilst at the same time upskilling teachers to support children who are bereaved and in their care. Children spend more waking hours in school than they do at home, which is why it is so important that all teaching and pastoral staff are aware of the signs they should look out for, and ways in which they can support a grieving child.

Bringing these sessions to Manchester has been a huge achievement but Sarah is not stopping there. The training is a fantastic opportunity for teaching staff to be able to speak confidently to students going through bereavement or loss and is considering delivering some session here on campus later on this year. However, for now if you would like to find out more about Sarah’s work, please contact her on s.l.owens@salford.ac.uk or on ext. 55839.