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Interview with Nicola Whitworth about ‘Staying Alive’

Interview with Nicola Whitworth about ‘Staying Alive’

The play, Staying Alive, deals with a very sensitive issue – the death of a child.

Kat Roberts, the writer of the play, caught up with Nicola Whitworth, from bereaved parent support group SLOW. Nicola helped Kat with her research in writing Staying Alive: this kind of in-depth research is part of why Staying Alive is such a remarkable piece of theatre.

We wanted to share with you the important work Nic and SLOW do.

Can you give us a short background on what SLOW is and what it provides?

SLOW is a self-help group for bereaved parents, run by bereaved parents. It provides a weekly day time group and a monthly evening group where bereaved parents are able to come and listen, talk and simply spend time together in the knowledge that they are with others who share their grief.

What’s the philosophy behind SLOW?

SLOW stands for Surviving the Loss of your World – at your own pace. The philosophy is that grief is a natural response to the untimely death of a child, and we seek to walk alongside each other through the pain that grief involves. Adapting and adjusting to life without your child is a slow process that requires patience and kindness towards yourself and from others. We will provide the space for bereaved parents to find their own way through grief, at their own pace, trusting that each person is unique in the pattern of their grief and will adjust in their own way. We hold onto to the hope that through our sharing community we may each find a way to connect with our child in our own time. Grief is an ever-changing landscape: we believe each parent will ultimately find a way to carry their child with them in a way that makes sense to them, though they will never be ‘fixed’

You and Kat (writer of Staying Alive) had quite a long chat regarding the best way to portray this sensitive subject matter. What did you think was the most important thing she had to convey?

That grief of a parent cannot be fixed, and that the experience of time changes completely for bereaved parents. We need time to grieve, time to rest, time to try to rebuild our lives, time to recalibrate our worlds, time to make sense of a senseless world. The past is forever present and the future is frightening. We are irrevocably changed and our children’s names are a joy to hear and we love it when people talk about them – as do parents whose children are thankfully alive.

How is SLOW funded?

We were lucky enough to receive Lottery Funding this year. We also receive funding from Islington Community Chest, London Initiative Funds, and we are supported by the Waitrose Community Matters scheme, The Maple Trust, and member fundraising.

How can we help out with your work?

Our Local Giving page is the best way to support us, though we are very happy for any fundraising event to be hosted for us, please do get in touch if you would like to fundraise for SLOW.

Kat’s Play ‘Staying Alive’ is being run again at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington 10th to 29th November, 2015.

This interview is republished here with the kinds permission of the Blackshaw theatre and you can listen to the original interview on the Blackshaw Theatre blog from January of this year by clicking the link below.

Staying Alive: Kat Roberts & Nic Whitworth in Conversation

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Jason Watkins on ITV Good Morning Britain talking about Sepsis

Jason Watkins on ITV Good Morning Britain talking about Sepsis

Jason Watkins appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to talk about Sepsis and the launch of a pocket guide for parents by the UK Sepsis Trust. He also mentioned SLOW and our work helping bereaved parents.

The main thrust though was given to raising awareness of the terrible form of blood poisoning, Sepsis, and the risk it poses to new born babies and toddlers. Jason and his partner lost their two year old daughter Maude to the infection in 2011.

The Department of Health has announced a paediatric toolkit to help healthcare professionals drive down the death rate from the infection. The toolkit was designed by the UK Sepsis Trust who produced the parent’s pocket guide covering the symptoms shown below.


The programme’s site also listed 10 facts about sepsis which we’ve reproduced below. It’s a terrible infection which with more awareness can see the death rate reduced.

  • Sepsis is when the body starts to fight an infection, it can trigger the immune system to go into overdrive, damaging the body’s own tissues and organs. Untreated, sepsis leads to multiple organ failure and death.
  • Symptoms of sepsis include a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, a change in behaviour (confusion, drowsiness or slurring words – patients can appear drunk), hypothermia, diarrhoea, changes in skin colour, sore throats and flu-like symptoms.
  • If diagnosed and treated in the first hour following presentation with sepsis, the patient has more than an 80% survival rate. After the sixth hour, the patient only has a 30% survival rate.
  • In the UK, its estimated that we see 102,000 cases of severe sepsis every year, with a staggering 37,000 deaths. In comparison, breast cancer claims around 12,000 lives each year.
  • Sepsis is one of the biggest direct causes of death in pregnancy in the UK
  • It consumes over a third of our most expensive hospital beds in Intensive Care and costs the NHS around £2.5 billion a year
  • Global figures: In the developing world, sepsis kills more than 6 million neonates and children yearly. Every hour, about 1000 people die from sepsis worldwide.
  • The UK Sepsis Trust public awareness poll in 2014 found that 40% of the public had heard the word sepsis but of those, only 40% knew it was a medical emergency
  • Awareness is the number one cure for sepsis. Raising recognition of the disease and increasing the number of patients treated in the Golden Hour is the single biggest attempt we can make to save lives.
  • With public education, better knowledge and awareness among doctors, nurses and paramedics, and by redesigning the way patients with sepsis are treated, we can save 12,500 lives per year in the UK and shave £170 million from the NHS budget

List by Dr Ron Daniels, CEO of the UK Sepsis Trust and frontline NHS Consultant

How do you spot sepsis in a child?

Sepsis symptom card

Sepsis symptom card – The UK Sepsis Trust

You can read the article on the Good Morning Britain site and retweet the link also shown above too.

The UK Sepsis Trust are here if you’d like more information and if you are in need of support following the loss of a child to sepsis or any other reason please get in contact with us here.

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