Interview: Sarah Wootton

The chief executive of Dignity in Dying talks to Nicola Merrifield about how having opponents can help to secure coverage

Sarah Wootton
Sarah Wootton

- How long should the ideal campaign last?

There is no ideal campaign length. Some are suited to a few months, whereas others go on for years. The more important thing is to have clear political and policy outcomes.

- How easy is it for you to get media coverage?

The media are interested in us because we have opponents, so there is a conflict of views surrounding our charity. A lot of other campaigns do not face a contrasting set of opinions.

- What communication problems does a taboo area such as death present?

It's very important not to trivialise the issue of death. If we use case studies, people can relate more easily to the issue. Patrons also play a part in making the subject more accessible.

- How do you overcome problems communicating what the law says and the changes you want?

Making people understand the details and the impact of the law is crucial. We quantify and qualify aspects of our campaign to highlight the numbers of people affected by the law and the kind of people who are affected.

- How do Dignity in Dying and Compassion in Dying manage communications in joint campaigns?

Being chief executive of both means I can ensure they work in partnership. Patient choice is at the heart of both charities. It is harder to get coverage for Compassion in Dying because it deals with existing legal rights and there is no opposition; we can use Dignity in Dying to help raise its profile.

- What other campaigns do you admire?

Reprieve's victory on the shelving of the Gibson Inquiry had clear policy outcomes. It is very good at raising the profile of campaigns. I also admire Grandparents Plus. It's a smaller charity that was largely unknown until a couple of years ago but has clear policy outcomes on benefits for grandparents.

Sarah Wootton is chief executive of Dignity in Dying, the charity that campaigns for legalised assisted dying, and of its partner charity, Compassion in Dying

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