Funeral Poverty is a serious issue. This is often created by a number of factors coming together: no savings or spare money; funerals by their nature are pricey due to the work involved – so it is a big expense; people don’t plan or discuss their needs; people don’t put any money aside.
This has the result of causing friction within family and saddling people with debt they cannot afford, one statistic is that the average debt taken on by people struggling to pay for a funeral is £1751. The easy thing to do is blame the funeral industry for profiteering and whilst I am not saying that is the case in certain instances, this is just a factor.
There is help and support out there for families, I love the work of the Quakers on funeral poverty with their initiatives: Down to Earth and Fair Funerals – they are doing an excellent job I would urge anyone to have a look at what they are doing https://quakersocialaction.org.uk/taking-social-action/our-practical-work/funeral-poverty
One big worry for people is scattering and interment of ashes. Personally, I don’t see the huge worry around scattering as this can be free (depending on the location chosen), internment (or burial as you know it as) is a different matter. Internment comes with extra costs – basically the legal requirements including the land needing planning and the fact that once ashes have been buried you can’t simply dig them up.
So, I was delighted when I came across the charity plot bank. Plot bank provides a place for scattering and interment of ashes for those who are unable to afford it. Allowing people to have there own memorial tree which will in turn create a memorial woodland.
They have a site located in Lancashire on the edge of the Trough of Bowland an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The site has capacity to create a substantial memorial woodland.
They work with a business who donate the plot. Then a client will come to them in need of their services: this tends to be via referral e.g., a hospice or via self-referral.
What a great initiative.
One thing and perhaps maybe I am being a bit wishy-washy but it is the term funeral poverty. I don’t really like it. I can see how its eye catching for the policy makers… “what is that you say… poverty?! we should definitely do something about that” And leaves them with a with a warm glow once they have helped. But poverty is a very tricky word from the point of view of those suffering, it comes with a baggage of shame, the term is almost Victorian – dirty faced children in a Charles Dickens novel. However modern poverty does not look like that and people may choose debt rather than stigma, which might seem crazy to many, but not being able to give a ‘decent’ send off to someone exacerbates the situation to a point where instead of cutting the cloth accordingly they will get into greater debt to hide the fact that they are in financial difficulty.
Here are a couple more pictures of the memorial woodland: