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Connecting Devon and Torbay communities through shared grief

Posted on 02 Mar 2022

Art workshops, grief cafes and music are the latest events to roll out in Finding Connection Through Loss project.

Free death cafés, music performances and art sessions are being rolled out across libraries in Devon and Torbay to help connect local communities through the shared experience of dealing with loss.

Libraries Unlimited launched the Finding Connection Through Loss project earlier this year with Arts Council England funding.

Emily Macaulay, Service Delivery Manager from Libraries Unlimited said: “Library staff hear stories about loss from their users every week. Loss of family members, loss of connections with their community or neighbours, loss of employment opportunities, loss of support structures. These stories and experiences have only been amplified by Covid and the impact that is having on communities.”

“Libraries are a space where people who have experienced loss come to feel connection. Some will choose to just ‘be’ in the space, maybe just quietly reading, while others will want to interact, perhaps at an event. We launched this project to try and formalise and develop some of the valuable work we already do in this area, giving people a chance to share their experiences with others going through the same thing.”

At Exeter, Barnstaple and Crediton libraries, Death Cafés will allow people to enjoy tea and cake, and meeting others who want to share their experiences of death. The aim is to create a safe space where people can talk about their hopes and fears around death and dying or just come and listen. It is a discussion group rather than a support or counselling session and there’s no set agenda and no need to book. Anyone is welcome to come along.

The sessions will be held:

Exeter3rd May1pm3pm
Barnstaple6th May1pm3pm
Crediton11th May1pm3pm

Further Death Café sessions will be held at Okehampton and Holsworthy with flower pressing sessions and the chance to dedicate a flower to a loved one. The finished work will be displayed in a special illuminated box (restored by Men in Sheds, Okehampton). Anyone wanting to take part in the flower pressing but unable to attend the session, can pick up everything they need from Okehampton and Holsworthy libraries throughout February, until Tuesday 22nd March, or email to receive a pack in the post.

Okehampton21st Mar12:30pm2:30pm
Holsworthy22nd Mar12:30pm2:30pm

For more information about the Death Café sessions please contact Aly on

In Torbay there will be live performances of music created from previous Libraries Unlimited supported workshops about grieving. People shared their experiences with musician Hugh Nankivell, who has created songs that he will perform alongside singer and violinist Emma Welton, and singer and percussionist Lyndon Forster, on their tour ‘An Empty Space – songs about grieving’. There is no need to book – just drop in. For more information about these performances contact Hugh at

Tour dates and locations are below:

Torquay Library17th Mar10:30am11:30am
Paignton Library17th Mar2pm3pm
Palace Avenue Methodist Church, 27 Palace Ave, Paignton TQ3 3EQ17th Mar7pm8pm
Brixham Library18th Mar10:30am11:30am
Churston Library18th Mar2pm3pm

Libraries Unlimited has also created a BSL video inviting Deaf people to join the Finding Connection Through Loss project.

Libraries Unlimited believes…

…in the unlimited potential of library services to make a positive difference to people’s lives and communities through a shared love of reading and access to high quality information and facilities.