Childhood bereavement in the general election

The General Election gives you a chance to raise issues affecting bereaved children, young people and their families with your local candidates, and ask them what they would do to improve support if they were elected.

What can you do?

  • Email or tweet at your candidates asking for their views. You can find your local candidates on the BBC website.
  • Talk to candidates who knock on your door or are out and about in public. Be ready to talk to them about issues that matter to you, and ask how they would make things better for the next generation of widowed parents and their children.
  • Go along a local hustings. These are public meetings for particular constituencies: candidates are invited to talk and respond to questions. You can go along and ask a question. Check your local newspapers, libraries and the internet for listings of hustings in your area.
  • Ask for a meeting. You can ask to meet your local candidates on particular issues of concern to you.

What can you ask?

The Childhood Bereavement Network wants support to be available to all bereaved children and young people, wherever they live and however they have been bereaved.

You could ask your candidates questions such as

  • There is very little information about the number of children bereaved each year in our area. That means it’s difficult to plan services, and hard to get information about support to families. If you are elected, how would you make sure we know how many grieving children there are in our area?
  • Support for children is patchy and many families have to travel long distances, wait a long time, or struggle on their own. What would you do to improve the support that children get in our community?
  • Many adults worry about how to talk to children about a death. How would you make sure that any adult working with children and young people gets training in bereavement awareness, so that they know how they might help a child who is facing bereavement?
  • Bereaved children spend a huge amount of their time in school, and over 70% of primary schools have a recently bereaved child on roll. How would you make sure that schools have flexible and sensitive people and systems, and are ready with support and information when bereavement touches the school?
  • What are your views on the role of the school curriculum in helping children and young people to learn about death and bereavement as part of life?

You may also want to ask questions about the recent changes to bereavement payments for widowed parents and children. You could ask

  • The changes which came in on 6 April will leave 75% newly widowed parents worse off than under the old system. The maximum time over which families will be supported through bereavement benefits is being cut from 20 years to 18 months. 91% of families will be supported for a shorter time. If you are elected, would you support a rethink of the changes, to support those with children for a longer time?
  • Parents who were living with – but not married to – their partner do not get Bereavement Support Payment, even if they had children together. Those children have the same need for support, whether their parents were married or not. Would you consider extending the entitlement to parents who were cohabiting?