Safer Tourism Foundation calls for better support for all grieving families who have lost loved ones abroad

The opportunity to reverse decline, with better support for grieving families

Safer Tourism Foundation backs the Victims’ Commissioner’s recommendations, but says they should extend to all families who unexpectedly lose a loved one abroad.

The Safer Tourism Foundation, a charity dedicated to preventing accidents, injury and illness for Brits travelling abroad, applauds the work of the Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales to highlight the need for better support for families of victims of homicide abroad, set out in the report, Struggling for Justice. But, it says the recommendations do not go far enough, and the UK’s current support for grieving families of relatives that have died abroad will remain fragmented and inconsistent.

The Safer Tourism Foundation is calling for the recommendations to extend to all families who unexpectedly lose a loved one abroad, in all circumstances.

The charity is also calling for an independent advocate to offer emotional and financial support to all grieving families who have lost a loved one abroad, whatever the cause of death, to co-ordinate the numerous agencies with competing and powerful interests which are almost impossible to navigate without help, at a time when the bereaved are in a vulnerable position.

When a loved one dies abroad, either while on holiday, travelling for business, or living overseas, the loss can be made so much worse by the practical difficulties. Every situation is unique, yet a common thread from grieving families has been the lack of support to help them understand the events that led to the death of their loved one, as well as deal with practicalities of bringing their family member home.

Dealing with bureaucracy that dehumanises the person that has died, often in a language they don’t understand, with unfamiliar customs practices and law, and added media scrutiny, whether it is welcome or not, makes a terrible event even worse. This is the position Safer Tourism Foundation’s founder Sharon Wood experienced in 2006, and it appears families are experiencing similar difficulties more than a decade later

Safer Tourism Foundation’s Chief Executive, Katherine Atkinson said:

“We are delighted that the Victim’s Commissioner is seeking to reform the support available to grieving families following a death abroad. Whether the death was of natural causes, a result of malicious intent, or an accident, the level of support available to families remains largely unchanged since our Founder, Sharon Wood, experienced it first-hand as she fought for justice for her children Bobby and Christi Shepherd. Reform is long overdue, and while we support the Victim’s Commissioner’s efforts, we feel the recommendations do not go far enough.

“Safer Tourism Foundation’s view is all families need independent emotional and financial support to guide them through the immediate aftermath of their loved one’s death abroad, tailored to their specific needs and available as long as is necessary to deal with the practicalities of bringing their family member home”.

Safer Tourism has contacted the Victims Commissioner to share experiences of bereaved families who have lost loved ones abroad as a result of accident, illness and injury.


Struggling for Justice: Entitlements and Experiences of Bereaved Families Following Homicide Abroad

Published on 28/10/19

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