Children’s Funeral Fund Anniversary: Almost 3000 bereaved families in England access vital funding for children’s funerals since launch

23 July 2020

National funeral provider, Co-op Funeralcare, has revealed that a year since the launch of the Children’s Funeral Fund, almost 3000 bereaved families have accessed funding available to pay for their child’s funeral.

Data obtained by the Co-op through a Freedom of Information Request shows that just under half of the bereaved families who would have been eligible for funding, have applied for the Children’s Funeral Fund for England since it launched last July.

The Government fund, which launched on July 23, 2019, helps bereaved parents pay for their child’s burial or cremation. It followed a cross-party campaign supported by the Co-op and led by Carolyn Harris MP, who called tirelessly for greater financial support for bereaved parents after the devastating death of her eight-year old son, Martin.

To be eligible, a child must be under 18 at the time of death or stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy, and the burial or cremation must take place in England.

Prior to the introduction of the Children’s Funeral Fund, in 2017, Co-op Funeralcare became the first national funeral director to extend its free child funeral policy to bereaved parents, grandparents and legal guardians of children up to and including the age of 17. This extension to the existing policy provided additional funding support for thousands of bereaved families. Through its free child funerals policy, for over 30 years the Co-op has been able to help over 25,000 bereaved families with funeral costs.

The policy is part of a broader focus at the Co-op on supporting bereaved parents. In April 2020, the organisation announced to its 63,000 colleagues that it is to give four weeks’ fully paid leave to any colleague who loses a child under the age of 18. Extending its policy beyond Jack’s Law which led to the mandatory introduction of two week’s leave on statutory pay.

In encouraging greater support for bereaved parents, Co-op has announced a children’s funerals charter, this calls for:

  • All funeral providers should not charge families for the funerals of children up to and including the age of 17
  • Industry bodies to re-engage funeral providers about the Children’s Funeral Fund to increase awareness
  • All organisations involved in supporting families and arranging funerals to inform bereaved parents about the Children’s Funeral Fund, so that they have the opportunity to access the funding should they wish

David Collingwood, Director of Funerals at Co-op Funeralcare said: “We campaigned for and welcomed the introduction of the Children’s Funeral Fund, which was such a positive and important step in helping families in England through the most tragic and unimaginable loss. This vital fund has helped and comforted devastated parents at the worst time of their lives.

“This is a fund that you hope nobody will ever have to access. Sadly though, an estimated 3,800 children die under the age of 18 every year, and there are a further 2,700 stillbirths. It is encouraging to see that the fund has been able to offer many of them some financial support in a time of such tragic loss.

“Whilst some families may choose not to access the funding, we’re encouraging the MoJ and organisations supporting bereaved families to assess whether all families have been made aware of the financial support that is available to them.

“Unfortunately, not all funeral directors currently waive all the charges for a child’s funeral and there are other costs to cover, including vehicles, transfers and arrangements. We believe these added costs should be covered by the grant.”

Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East said:

“I remain immensely proud that the Children’s Funeral Fund was established last year in memory of my son, Martin.

“It was a painful process for me and my family to revisit our grief in order for the fund to come into existence but knowing that almost 3000 other families have been spared any financial worry at the most difficult time of their lives, has made our pain more bearable.”

Helen Gravestock, Associate Director at CLIC Sargent said:

“After two years of campaigning, CLIC Sargent welcomed the news that the Government will establish the Children’s Funeral Fund in July 2019 - a move that means grieving parents no longer have to fear being plunged into debt by the cost of their child’s funeral. This a hugely significant change, that will help save bereaved parents up and down the country at risk of funeral poverty.

“In particular, we welcome the Fund (which covers burial and cremation fees and some associated costs) for making fees for a child’s funeral free for families at the point of need and for being available to all parents regardless of their nationality, or that of their child, as long as the burial or cremation takes place in England.

“Every year in the UK, 4,450 children and young people under 25 are diagnosed with cancer – that is 12 children and young people every day. Cancer is the biggest killer of children and young people by disease in the UK (aged 1 to 24 years old).

“We want to make sure that all families who can access the fund know that they are able to and are actively working with our social care teams to ensure the families we support are aware of the fund if in need of it. CLIC Sargent supports the Coop’s Children’s Funerals Charter and efforts to encourage greater support for bereaved parents.”

ENDS

**Fund application figures were received under FOI. The figures in this news release are based on the annual estimate supplied by the MoJ: Every year in England an estimated 3,800 children die under the age of 18, and there are a further 2,700 stillbirths.

For further information, please contact:

Lauren Pogson | lauren.pogson@coop.co.uk | 07702 505 626

Vikki McCrindle | vikki.mccrindle@coop.co.uk | 07773 096 868

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About the Co-op The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, legal services and health. It has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities.

Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 1,000 funeral homes and it provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited. It has more than 63,000 colleagues and an annual revenue of over £10 billion.