I met with Ellie Ball, Media and Campaigns Manager Dignity in Dying. I briefed her on my work in the same way as with the MS Society and took her through the Show and Tell material. Their interest is in material that shares the experience of those who have experienced the Dignitas process. They do this via research projects that they commission. The projects are then used to lobby the UK Parliament for a change in the law and to opinion formers such as the British Medical Association.
I explained the potential conflict with doing something with them and the MS Society who do not have a position for or against assisted dying. She advised she would look at the history of the relationship between the MS Society and Dignity in Dying. She said many organisations are now developing a dialogue with them and cited the Parkinsons Society as an example where a meaningful dialogue was now happening.
The MA Project could be shown within an interview process within the research programme. The current research is titled ‘Suicide Among terminally ill people.’ She provided me with the reports from the two previous research projects. Be warned there is some very distressing material in these reports.
If a conflict does arise between the Dignity and Dying and the MS Society I will proceed with the MS Society. My work for my MA is about my experience living with someone chronically ill with MS who then dies. Although a big event, my wife Karens’ death in Switzerland is not the focus of the work but something that happened during my experience of her chronic illness.
Ellie explained one potential issue for them is that I live in Spain. I remain domiciled in the UK but am resident in Spain as was my wife.
The next steps are to see what Ellie comes back with and liaise with the MS Society, Tom Shelston, over any conflict issues.
It was an emotional day going through my story with both organisations today. It brought to the surface many of the difficulties I have gone through and also a responsibility to use my own experience to help in the best way I can people who are suffering a similar experience now. It also confirms the power of personal pain as a subject of investigation for photography.