Marie Curie to help businesses in Suffolk support staff affected by terminal illness or bereavement

Marie Curie to help businesses in Suffolk support staff affected by terminal illness or bereavement

Leading end of life charity Marie Curie is offering small businesses in Suffolk a free online training course.


Thanks to funding from Suffolk County Council, the Marie Curie Compassionate Workplaces programme is designed to help support employees who’ve been affected by terminal illness or grief, and to equip managers with the tools they need to help their staff.


According to Marie Curie research more than half (56%) of employees would consider leaving their employer if treated badly following a bereavement. The research also shows a supportive culture contributes to a faster return to work, higher morale, and increased productivity. It also has a positive effect on other staff through embedding a culture of mutual support and care which in turn leads to enhanced employer brand and improved recruitment.


Yet many employers do not know what to do – either from a statutory point of view, or how to support their employees through difficult times.


Marie Curie worked with local organisations and stakeholders to develop the content and following a successful pilot, the training has been launched with topics including:.

  • The need for a compassionate response to grief and bereavement in the workplace
  • The role of policies and what best practice looks like
  • How to support employees to navigate emotional and practical challenges
  • Where to signpost to for further support


Tracey Allan Community Engagement & Development Manager for Marie Curie in the East of England said:


“At Marie Curie, we recognise workplaces have a crucial role to play when someone is affected by terminal illness or bereavement, it is not easy for anyone and can feel like a minefield where no one quite knows what to do or say.

“Deadlines and the pressure of work can also get in the way. And if you are the one affected by terminal illness or grieving, lack of openness and support at work can make it worse.

“Providing employees with better support can help prevent bigger issues from occurring, boost overall productivity and help grow loyalty. Our aim is to facilitate conversation, provide advice and point to good practice.”


Cllr Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health, and Public Protection, said:


“The Compassionate Workplace training provides managers with the knowledge and skills to support staff who have been affected by terminal illness or grief”.


“The project is part of the council’s Public Mental Health programme, which aims to support the things that keep us all mentally well in our day-to-day lives. These include improving workplace support for health and wellbeing, providing activities that keep us moving and bringing us together with other people from our communities.”


Sally Watson, Healthwatch Suffolk who took part in the pilot said:


“Talking about grief and bereavement can be awkward and uncomfortable, but with heightened awareness of the importance of employee wellbeing – particularly in the wake of the Covid pandemic, it needs to be a critical part of the conversation.


“Employers have a duty of care for their employees and a critical role to play in providing proactive support. In my view this training should be mandatory for all organisations.”


Candy Richards, Development Manager (Anglia), Federation of Small Business also commented:


“With limited resources and competing priorities, many small businesses may not consider training on how to manage terminal illness and bereavement top of the list. But loss and grief impact us all – and if not handled sensitively or proactively can have a devasting affect, not just on the individual, but on the whole organisation.


“Knowing how to respond and ensuring appropriate support mechanisms are in place should the worst happen is critical to business continuity. This is true for organisations of all sizes, but particularly for small ones that are so reliant on healthy and high-functioning close-knit teams.”




Thursday 18 May and Thursday 25 May
9am – 10.30am

11 am – 12.30pm

Module 1: Managing Terminal Illness at Work

Module 2: Managing Grief & Bereavement at Work

Thursday 11 June and Thursday 18 June
9am – 10.30am

11 am – 12.30pm

Module 3: Understanding Grief & Bereavement

Module 4: Planning Ahead


To find out more and register, please visit or contact

A Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certificate of attendance will also be available on request.

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