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What are compassionate communities?

Compassionate communities are groups of people who want to help and support each other, especially when someone is experiencing serious or life limiting illness, ageing, caregiving, and loss, using social connectedness, kindness, and compassion. 

A compassionate community approach can be adopted by friends, neighbourhoods, schools, clubs, workplaces, or any other groups of people who care about the wellbeing of their community, particularly in times of health crisis or personal loss.

There are many ways that compassionate communities can provide impactful support to others, from helping relatives to plan for a good end of life, to picking up a neighbour’s prescription, or sharing knowledge and experience. The smallest kind gesture can make the biggest difference, including checking that colleagues are ok in times of distress or starting a compassionate conversation with a bereaved friend.

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This page contains a wealth of information about Compassionate Communities, so to help you quickly find what you're looking for, simply click on the relevant button below to jump to its section or continue to scroll down to browse the entire page.

Compassionate City Colchester celebration

Colchester has been recognised as the first Compassionate City in the East of England, and to celebrate, the Compassionate Colchester Network is hosting a celebration event in recognition of all the people who are kind and compassionate in the city.

Find out more and book

How you can get involved

Compassionate communities across north east Essex are coming together to help people develop the tools, confidence and resilience they need to provide support, empathy and a listening ear – and you can help too.

There are lots of ways that you can get involved at no cost, including sharing your experiences at local workshops, events and activities or attending free Compassionate Conversations training that helps people to talk with others about death, dying or loss. 

You might be able to help organise group activities or awareness raising events, or become a Compassionate School or Compassionate Workplace. All of these support better end of life care for local communities and will help make a difference to those facing dying, death or bereavement.

Read more below or to find out more, contact us by using the form at the bottom of this page, email or call 01206 845566. 

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How you can help others plan ahead

You can help others plan ahead by raising awareness of the My Care Choices Register - a record of a person’s decisions about the kind of care they wish to receive in the future if they were more unwell, and their preference for the place of care. We work with other local health and social care partners to promote this to people who are living with an incurable illness, dementia, or frailty.

Check out the "Useful Links and Resources" section at the bottom of this page for additional information.

Learn more

A Compassionate Community approach in North East Essex

St Helena Hospice supports a compassionate community approach and believes that everyone has a role to play in supporting others in times of health crisis or personal loss.

We are part of a network of local organisations and community champions in the Colchester and Tendring districts that has supported a range of activities and initiatives, with the aim of improving end of life care for everyone in North East Essex.

The North East Essex (NEE) Compassionate Community network is helping to:

  • Start a conversation about end of life.
  • Improve accessibility to end of life care.  
  • Develop end of life knowledge, skills, and support networks.

If you or a loved one is facing incurable illness or bereavement and you're looking for other services and groups in your local community that can support you or them, The Essex Map is a useful resource to use. 

You can search by category or by your own phrase i.e. 'grief support' or 'carer support' or 'lung disease' and you can see on the map what support is available near you.

Visit the Essex Map
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Demystifying End of Life Care workshops

A series of ‘Demystifying End of Life Care’ community workshops are aimed at breaking down barriers and demystifying taboos, while sharing and learning from each other’s experiences.

Each of these workshops has a different theme and include guest speakers and Q&A, as well as group discussion about dying, death and bereavement.

Anyone interested in learning more about end of life care options is welcome, including local residents, organisations, and service providers. Refreshments are provided.

A group discussion

Carer Awareness Training for Friends & Family

Carer Awareness Training for Friends & Family is a series of awareness raising sessions for your community group, club, or social network aimed at providing the knowledge, confidence, and practical skills to help you care well for others during the last phase of life.

These informative and interactive free to attend sessions are for anyone, especially those who are - or could become - a caregiver for family or friends experiencing incurable or life-limiting illness.

Topics covered by an experienced nurse include understanding incurable or life limiting illness, using the significant care tool, advance care planning options, and being alongside a person in the last phase of life.

Up to five sessions are available depending on the groups learning preferences. An introductory session will help you identify if more sessions are needed.

Book an awareness training session by using the form at the bottom of this page, email or call 01206 845566. 

St Helena is hosting a series of online sessions titled Demystifying Care for Friends and Family, use the button below to book onto a session. 

Find out more and book a session
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Compassionate Conversations Awareness Training

Compassionate Conversations is a free two-hour awareness training session that is delivered in-person by St Helena.

This training is aimed at helping people to talk with others experiencing death, dying or loss by giving them the skills and confidence to enable open, honest, and sensitive conversations.

A series of online Compassionate Conversations Awareness Training sessions, delivered by St Elizabeth hospice in partnership with St Helena, are also available.

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Compassionate Workplaces Awareness Training

Compassionate Workplaces Awareness Training by St Helena provides the practical tools and resources needed by organisations to help support their workforce during life’s most difficult moments.

This free to attend practical session is aimed especially for line managers and HR teams, and will help build staff confidence and competencies, while supporting better long-term outcomes for businesses.

The full awareness training session is delivered face to face at St Helena hospice and lasts for two and a half hours. A Compassionate Workplace introduction session is also available online for anybody who is unable to commit to the full session.

Organisations or groups can also book a private Compassionate Workplace awareness training session. To find out more please contact us by using the form at the bottom of this page, email or call 01206 845566. 

Learn more and booking
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Compassionate Walks

Walking has many proven health and wellbeing benefits that enable you to get some fresh air, gentle exercise, and to meet new people in safe and friendly space.

If you or a loved one is facing a health crisis or personal loss, you’d like to meet some new people, or you want to start walking to help keep fit but would like support, why not join a local walk.

Follow the links to Community360 and CVS Tendring for more information.

If you or a loved one is facing a health crisis or personal loss, you’d like to meet some new people, or you want to start walking to help keep fit but would like support, why not join these Compassionate Walks.

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Hospice Meet & Greet Invitation

Have you ever wondered what a hospice looks like and what palliative care is? St Helena is offering you the chance to have a guided visit of the Hospice + Q&A with our nursing team, followed by a cuppa and conversation with our community team. Everyone is welcome.

Meet & Greet sessions are available on Friday mornings from 09.30 – 10.30.

To arrange a Meet & Greet visit for up to five people please contact us by using the form at the bottom of this page, email or call 01206 845566.

A photo of a hospice nurse works at a computer whilst smiling at the camera

Compassionate Community Champions

Colchester has been recognised as a Compassionate City by Compassionate Communities UK because of the many local people, projects and places that go above and beyond to help improve the lives of others facing serious or life-limiting illness, ageing, caregiving and loss through social connectedness, kindness and compassion. 

We would like to celebrate Compassionate Community Champions who live or work in Colchester and invite you to nominate the people, projects and places who you believe should be recognised by the city.

Nominations can be made via our online form and all nominations will be reviewed by a panel of One Colchester Delivery Board representatives based on the criteria below. The panel will be in touch if more information is needed before making a decision. If your nomination is successful, you and the person, project or place you have nominated will be informed within two months of the nomination being received and will be invited to collect a certification of recognition by the Mayor of Colchester.

Nominate a Compassionate Community Champion
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Become a Compassionate Community Connector

Are you ready, willing, and able to help others in times of health crisis or personal loss? You can support a compassionate community approach in North East Essex as a Community Connector or within a number of formal volunteer roles at St Helena hospice.

For more information and to arrange an informal chat please contact us by using the form at the bottom of this page, email or call 01206 845566. 

A group of smiling people pose at the hospice

Be part of Compassionate City Colchester

The people of Colchester are coming together to help the city to become the first Compassionate City in the East region.

St Helena Hospice, Colchester City Council, Essex County Council, local champions, businesses, organisations, and charities, have all been working together to identify how we can all help make a difference to people’s lives at times of most need.

Learn more

Get in touch

We’d love to hear from local residents, clubs, organisations, businesses, schools, and services who want to help local communities and people experiencing death, dying and loss.

If you’re keen to find out more about how you can help grow a compassionate community in your neighbourhood, please contact us by using the form below, email or call 01206 845566.

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Compassionate communities events


Compassionate City Colchester Celebration





Greenstead Community Centre

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Compassionate Workplace Awareness Training


Multiple dates available

St Helena Hospice

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If you’re currently using or have ever used any of our services, you can offer valuable feedback and insight into how we can improve patient care and support for families.

Join our Service User Group

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