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Lubrizol helps to fund Nottingham self-help group’s bereavement art project

Back row, from Left, Sharon Scaniglia, Principal Arts Officer at Nottingham City Museums and Art Galleries, artist Kelly Ann Holmes and Karen Clegg, Production Services Manager at Lubrizol. Front row, Beth Rowland (Left) and Lizzie Paddock from the charity Let’s Talk About Loss

Derbyshire company Lubrizol has donated £250 to the UK’s first support network for young adults who are coping with losing a loved one after it took part in a live crowdfunding event.

The company, based in Hazelwood, near Belper, has handed over the money to Let’s Talk About Loss, a Nottingham group which brings bereaved 16-to-30-year-olds together and wants to use the money to hold an art and photography exhibition.

Lubrizol made the donation as part of its involvement in a bidding event called Hard Heads and Hang Ups, which was held at the THiNK in NG meeting space in Nottingham and invites organisations to pitch for money for projects which set out to improve people’s mental health.

The £250 went into an overall pot of £615, which was then put on offer to whichever group could convince a judging panel which included Lubrizol’s production services manager Karen Clegg that they deserved the money.

Four organisations bid for money to fund a range of schemes including a mental health art project, breast cancer support and an educational resource pack for vulnerable families, but the judges decided that Let’s Talk About Loss, which was represented by its founder, Beth Rowland, and Lizzie Paddock made the best case.

Beth set up the support group in 2016, a year after her mum, Susan, died of cancer when Beth was aged 20. The group’s first meeting was held in the centre of Nottingham and attended by a handful of people, but it now brings around 10 members together and new support groups are planned for Bristol and London.

Now the group wants to create an exhibition from photos or drawings submitted by its members through which they can tell the story of their experience of bereavement.

Due to be hosted by THiNK in the New Year, it’s hoped that the exhibition will help the participants to come to terms with their loss and ease mental health issues associated with grief.

Beth said: “We’ve never bid for money before, but we enjoyed the experience and were delighted to win, so we’re very grateful to Lubrizol for making a donation to the event and for everybody who voted for us.

“Our group creates a safe space in which people can talk about their grief, and I know from my own experience how expressing my feelings helps enormously with mental health by helping to set free emotions that otherwise I would be bottling up.

“My release came through writing a blog but since many of our members say they struggle to put what are often complex thoughts into words, we thought that they might find it easier by representing their grief with a photo or drawing.

“The exhibition is still in its early stages but we hope that it will not only help our members, but that it will encourage other people to explore their own grief in a positive way too.”

It was the third time that Lubrizol has taken part in the Hard Heads and Hang-Ups project, having previously helped fund a crafting club set up to help people with mental health issues and an art project aimed at inner-city teenage girls.

The company has also agreed to help design and print the exhibition catalogue.

Karen Clegg said: “Lubrizol have been raising money for Derbyshire Mind for the past two years and through that time we have learned how encouraging people to express themselves creatively can help them deal with mental issues such as anxiety and depression.

“Bereavement can trigger both of these feelings in young people, which is why we felt that Let’s Talk About Loss’s plans for an art exhibition had the potential to impact positively on the mental health and wellbeing of those taking part.

“Beth and Lizzie’s presentation was emotional and well-thought-out. They are making a real difference to people’s lives and we’re looking forward to seeing how the exhibition will turn out.”