Inaugural Compassionate City Conference – Birmingham July 10th and 11th 2023

Categories: Community Engagement and Education.

Tickets have gone on sale for Compassionate Communities UK’s inaugural conference, which will take place in Birmingham, the UK’s first accredited Compassionate City, on July 10-11 2023, with international experts from this growing social movement.

The aim of the conference is to provide the opportunity to hear about the practice of compassionate cities.

The experiences of death, dying, loss and care giving affects everyone, multiple times in all our lives, until our own final one. End of life care, provided by health, social care and charitable organisations, is only a part of the overall picture.

Human social relationships are fundamental to health and well being, not just at end of life but throughout our lives. The impact of relationships is deeply profound and is part of our evolutionary history and development.

The work of Julianne Holt Lunstad, particularly her ground breaking paper of 2010 on the impact of social relationships on mortality (1), shows that they are more effective at reducing the risk of dying than giving up smoking, drinking alcohol, taking exercise, reducing weight and much more effective than the treatment of high blood pressure.

When a compassionate community approach is combined with healthcare, the impacts are dramatic (2), with unheard of reductions in whole population emergency admissions to hospital.

Social relationships are biological and are primarily important. It is not just reducing loneliness or giving hands on support. The positive aspects of life are enhanced through creating supportive environments.

End of life does not just involve suffering. It involves love, friendship, meaning making, intimacy and strengthening of lasting relationships.  Grief is not just about sadness, but includes building continuing bonds, creating new relationships and appreciation of old ones.

Familiarity with the practice methods of public health palliative care is becoming more widespread but still remains in its early stages.

Compassionate cities are an integral part of the public health approach to palliative care. Whole areas can embark on the journey of providing support for all affected by end of life experiences, irrespective of age and diagnosis and removing the artificial barrier between dying and bereavement.

What happens in workplaces, places of worship, educational institutions, media, public spaces and in people with structural vulnerabilities such as homelessness, prison populations and others, makes a big difference to the overall support given at end of life.

Everyone can contribute to supporting each other.

A number of towns and cities in the UK have received accreditation from Compassionate Communities UK for compassionate city status.

The 2-day conference will include keynote speeches and panel discussions on the theory behind the Compassionate Cities framework and stories of it in practice from across the world.

Professor Allan Kellehear, who has not spoken in person in the UK for a number of years, will open the conference with an overview of compassionate cities, whose theory and practice he created 20 years ago.

Mark Hazelwood will speak about his extensive experience of taking forward a public health approach to palliative care in Scotland with the Scottish Palliative Care Partnership, who created the alliance of Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief in 2011. This alliance has the aim of influencing a wider range of social, cultural and other environmental factors which impact on people’s experiences towards the end of life.

Dr Julian Abel will do a presentation on the biology of compassion, how it is part of our evolutionary development and is a potential to be used by all of us. Compassionate cities make use of this precious resource in all of the environments supporting end of life.

The conference organisers, in order to get as broad a range as possible on the varied practices of compassionate cities, have invited speakers for special panel discussions.

A panel on equity, inclusion and diversity in palliative care includes Dr Jamila Hussein, Stewart O’ Callaghan founder and director of the LGBQT+ advocacy charity Live Through This, Dr Jed Jerwood from No Barriers Here and Dr Caroline Shulman, who has extensive experience in working in end of life in homelessness,  will talk about their experiences.

An international panel on compassionate cities includes Dr Naheed Dosani from Canada, Professor Mary Lou Kelley who is part of Compassionate Ottawa, Dr Kerrie Noonan with her extensive experience of compassionate communities and Professor of Philosophy Hirobumi Takenouchi, who has started a compassionate city project in Japan. The conference also includes a variety of hour long workshops and 20 minute presentations on the practice of compassionate cities.

Cultural events are embedded into the conference with film screenings on the themes of grief and loss. Catering for the evening dinner will include delicious street food from the Birmingham area. The cultural events programme will be finalised nearer the time.

This is not an academic conference. We have encouraged speakers to bring people who have experienced the benefits of being part of compassionate cities.

We want delegates to feel enthused, rejuvenated and excited by the presentations, with  new ideas that they will be able to take away and put into practice in their own areas.

Dr Julian Abel
Director, Compassionate Communities UK


To enrol please follow the link

Registration is now open.

The fees are as follows:

  • £250 for the full 2-day conference or Early Bird Rate of £200 if you book before March 31st!
  • £150 for full time students
  • Virtual experience – including access to any live-streamed keynotes and workshops – £75
  • PHPCI members from low and middle – income countries: Fee Waived.

Conference Brochure: About-CC-UK-Igniting-CommUnity


  1. Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Layton JB. Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLoS medicine. 2010;7(7):e1000316.
  2. Abel J, Kingston H, Scally A, Hartnoll J, Hannam G, Thomson-Moore A, et al. Reducing emergency hospital admissions: a population health complex intervention of an enhanced model of primary care and compassionate communities. Br J Gen Pract. 2018:bjgp18X699437.

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