I am standing in a field at Aston Hall Park surrounded by giant flags made out of NHS bed sheets formed in the shape of a cross and chatting to the artist who created this work. Luke Jerram’s In Memoriam has toured the world and we at BrumYODO have helped bring the work to Birmingham.
I am sitting on stage at Midlands Arts Centre alongside performers from Vamos Theatre Company and a BSL interpreter. The audience has just seen the show Dead Good and we are answering questions in a panel discussion.
I am sharing tea and cake with a small group of people I have never met before and discussing all areas of their experiences of life and death. One man tells me how he has memorialised his wife who died earlier in the year, a couple share their plans for their funeral, a young woman talks about the devastation of watching her child die.
I am at all of these events because I’m on the BrumYODO Team, playing an active part in encouraging people to meet and chat about death and dying. And these are tiny snapshots of all the events we have organised or supported so far including theatre shows, conference talks, food events, art exhibitions, online discussions, author talks, after-show panels, films and marketplace stalls.
And now we are looking for more team members to take us forward with more ideas, more engagement, more discussion.
So why become involved? Because you have an interest in finding opportunities which enable people to explore and discuss death and dying. Because you will make great connections with other people and organisations across Birmingham. Because you can be effective in bringing about societal change.
And we have seen that change. When I joined BrumYODO six years ago it felt like we were lone voices but the past few years have seen so many other people, groups and cities push forward the conversation. BrumYODO is now part of a family alongside numerous other voices organising events, publishing books, holding festivals and generating thought, exploration and discussion.
Membership of the BrumYODO Team is hands-on. We are a small group of volunteers and everyone’s skills are needed and appreciated. Together we achieve amazing things. What begins as the spark of an idea, weeks or months later becomes a packed event. Because one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned during my time with BrumYODO is that if you open the door and give people opportunities to discuss and explore death, bereavement, grief and also life they will do so.
We used to say death and dying were taboo subjects in society – not any more. Now we are constantly encouraged at how inventive artists, practitioners and event organisers have become in tackling these subjects and encouraging others into the discussion.
BrumYODO is firmly based in Birmingham but we have come to realise that we are part of an international movement for change. Now you can be part of that change. We’d love to talk to you about becoming a BrumYODO team member and hearing your ideas for our future. For more details of the role and how to apply, click here