CO-OP Funeralcare has announced that it will no longer charge for funerals for under 18s.
The Manchester based funeral provider has offered free funerals to under 16s for the last 30 years, but has now extended this policy to include 16 and 17 year olds.
Richard Lancaster, the CEO of Co-op Funeralcare, said: “Dealing with the death of a child is a devastating experience for any parent and having to comprehend this as well as sorting out the funeral and associated costs makes this experience even more traumatic.
“We’re focused on assisting the bereaved more broadly and this extends to providing families with practical as well as emotional support following the unthinkable experience of losing a child.”
Under the policy, the co-op will provide: the necessary provision of funeral colleagues, transportation and collection, a hearse and limousine as appropriate, optional embalming, a greater range of coffin choice, the option to use a Co-op Funeralcare chapel for the service where available, and no charge for weekend funerals.
The policy does not cover associated funeral costs set by third parties and local authorities, such as burial and cremation fees, clergy costs, and the doctor certification fee.
Mr Lancaster called on other providers to follow the co-op’s example, saying: “We hope that others will now improve and extend their own policies on child funeral costs, meaning that funding support across the UK goes much further to assist bereaved parents.”
The decision follows a national campaign, which called on the government to establish a Children’s Funeral Fund in the Spring Budget, which would have paid for the funerals of all under 18s.
Figures from the Children’s Funeral Fund campaign suggest that over 5000 families lose a child every year, and many of these face ‘funeral poverty’ as a result of not being able to afford the funeral costs.
Research conducted by CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children, young people, and their families, found that 2 in 3 parents are in debt as a result of their child’s cancer diagnosis, and that a big part of this is the cost of a funeral.
The co-op’s decision was welcomed by the Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent, Kate Lee, who said: “For the families we support that go through the devastating experience of losing a child, the funeral expenses they face simply add to this burden.
“Co-op’s enhanced support for bereaved parents is a very positive move and we hope that other funeral providers will follow its example.”