The Heart of England Co-operative Society extends free child funeral service to cover under 18s


Friday, April 7, 2017

Darryl Smith, Funeral General Manager

A scheme by the Heart of England Co-operative Society to provide free funerals for the bereaved families of children under 16 has been extended to cover those under 18.

Darryl Smith, General Manager of the Society’s Funeral Division, which operates a network of 13 funeral homes across Coventry, Warwickshire, south Leicestershire and Northamptonshire under The Co-operative Funeralcare brand, is calling on other funeral directors who currently charge for ceremonies for babies and children to follow suit.

For 30 years The Co-operative Funeralcare has lent its services for free to assist the bereaved families of children under 16.

With funeral directors charging an average £3,675 to £3,897* – and additional, third-party charges such as burial or cremation charges reaching an average £1,055 on top – the scheme helps to alleviate the financial pressure on parents often faced with dealing with a sudden loss with no financial plan in place

Darryl said the Society had conducted 44 funerals for children aged under 16 since January 2015.

He said: “When we bring our children into this world, very seldom do we make mental or practical preparations for their funerals. It is only natural that we should expect our children to outlive us.

“Of course this is not the case when we lose a child suddenly. And even in cases of seriously ill children, parents are already under huge financial pressure, perhaps through daily travel and parking expenses and loss of income – so to have to find the money to fund their funerals would for most create unbearable pressure.”

He added: “We are committed to assisting bereaved parents more broadly and this extends to providing families with practical as well as emotional support following the unthinkable experience of losing a child.

“We hope that other funeral directors will now follow suit, improving and extending their own policies on child funeral costs, meaning that funding support across the UK goes much further to assist bereaved parents.”

The announcement has been welcomed by Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Funerals and Bereavement.

He said: “The Co-operative Funeralcare’s initiative to extend its free child funeral policy to now include all children up to the age of 18 is a very compassionate message to those parents who have regrettably lost a child, and is something I welcome.

“The loss of a child is something that no parent plans for, and I hope that The Co-operative’s positive lead on this matter will see other areas of the sector take the opportunity to provide similar enhanced support to assist parents at a very distressing time.”

* Research by pensions and insurance company Royal London recorded the average cost of a child’s funeral in 2016 at £3,675. A rival insurer stated the average cost as £3,897.

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