New West residents invited to help create a compassionate community

The New West Hospice Society is on a mission to remove barriers and gaps for end-of-life care across cultures, faiths and marginalized groups.

Community members are invited to attend Community Conversation 3.0, where they will talk about end-of-life care and identify gaps or barriers. It’s on Saturday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the lobby of New Westminster City Hall, 511 Royal Ave.

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“In reviewing our compassionate city charter, as we do, one of the components is to ensure that there is diversity and inclusion in all of the programs that we do, whether it is our bereavement program or our end-of-life care, even just the strategic plan, and to look at it with those lenses in place,” said Kay Johnson, president of the New West Hospice Society. “As we do every time, we don’t say, this is what we are going to do’, we say to the community, ‘what would you like us to do in these two areas?’ Traditionally speaking, we haven’t done a good job overall in our communities responding to all of the diverse needs.”

The society has invited refugee/immigrant groups, local religious groups, groups from Recovery Day, the LGBTQ community (through the Gay Straight Alliance at Century House) to the event, but encourages all community members to attend.

“Part of the goal is that the public will come and learn from the various groups that might be attending,” Johnson said. “It’s part of the overall goal we have of normalizing this talk, and the more we do this in the community, the more normal it becomes to talk about end-of-life care and loss.”

One of the goals of a compassionate city is to create a community that recognizes that caring for one another at times of health crisis and personal loss isn’t just something for health and social services, but is everyone’s responsibility. 

“A compassionate city is just that – it is compassionate. It’s compassionate for everyone,” Johnson said. “If I don’t know what your particular needs are, either from your culture or your faith or what is important to you, than how can I respond to you with the compassion that you need? It is being open and being willing to be curious about what the needs are, and not to assume that we know. How can we know if you haven’t told us what your needs are?”

Community Conversation 3.0 is based on a world café model where attendees will break into groups and circulate to three different stations. Light refreshments will be served.

 Community Consultation 3.0 is free, but RSVP to info@newwesthospice.ca.

The New West Hospice Society, which founded in 2016, is dedicated to building a grassroots hospice initiative from the community level up that’s based on the compassionate city model. Its mission is to provide services and to facilitate processes for people in New Westminster who are experiencing end-of-life and bereavement.

The New West Hospice Society received a 2017 Platinum Award as New Westminster’s Non-For-Profit of the Year. More information about the society and upcoming events, including an upcoming golf tournament and a weekly bereavement walking group, can be found at newwesthospice.ca.

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