Not only do I feel it is a basic human right, but having watched my grandfather suffer a painful death in hospital, I know I would never want anyone else to suffer like that against their will. I have been following the work of Dignity in Dying for some time now, and yesterday attended their AGM. As a supporter of their campaign I eagerly anticipated the day, and it did not disappoint.
It was a positive and encouraging start to see the vast amount of supporters who had come to the event. The morning consisted of talks from the heads of the organisation, which provided a wealth of information, particularly about their new draft bill. As a politics student, I was particularly inspired by MP Heidi Alexander’s rousing speech which perfectly illustrated that there are still MPs who will fight to represent the views of the public, with 80 per cent supporting an assisted dying law. Following the speeches there was a Q&A session with the audience and the parliamentarians. It was so inspirational to hear other supporters’ passion for the cause and extremely moving to hear their personal stories. To witness this huge amount of support further fuelled my passion for the campaign.
At lunchtime we were given the opportunity to go to parliament to lobby our MPs about the cause. It was extraordinary to see the Central Lobby in parliament filled with supporters carrying the ‘Dignity in Dying’ tote bags, which certainly caught many people’s attention! Whilst unfortunately I was unable to get a meeting with my MP, It was great to see fellow supporters having successful meetings with theirs, many of which had extremely positive outcomes.
After lunch we were treated to two very emotional and stirring talks; one from Zoe Wannamaker and one from Sir Terry Pratchett. It was extremely promising to see such high-profile patrons of the campaign, whose voices carry a long way in the media. In the afternoon we also watched an extremely poignant award-winning play by Chris Larner, in which he takes his ex-wife to Dignitas. The beautifully acted play really brought home why we need to legislate for assisted dying in the UK and stop relying on Switzerland to help people to die well.
Leaving my first Dignity in Dying AGM I felt so enthused to continue to support the cause, and most importantly to encourage others to join too. It did sadden me that there were only a few people of my age at the event, but I am going to work to get my friends involved on the issue and continue to be an ambassador for Dignity in Dying. I am confident that with the huge influence that social networking has today, a worthy campaign such as this could become massive among young people, and I will endeavour to help make that happen!.