We are campaigners fighting for more support for bereaved families, fairer funerals and ending poverty. In our blog we discuss issues and themes related to dignity, emotional support and affordablity in funerals.
The loss of a friend or relative is something that triggers so many emotions. However, shame should never be one of them.
Cruelly there are two words used freely when talking about one type of funeral that can cause shame and distress for everyone involved.
Those words are Pauper’s funeral.
These are words that are insensitively used to describe a funeral which is organised and paid for by the local authority. There are several reasons why this may happen, but one may be that their friends or family can not afford to pay for a funeral of someone who had no financial plans in place.
It is unacceptable that these people and the deceased are described this way. Especially considering the average cost of a basic funeral is £4,184 and £9,263 if you include all the extra costs*.
Even more distressing are the news stories reporting that some local authorities withhold the deceased ashes**.
We are living in a world where working people are in poverty; where the cost of living is high, and inflation keeps rising. It is completely understandable that people can’t afford to invest in a funeral plan or pay for someone else’s funeral.
If someone close to you died right now, and they had no financial plans in place, would you be able to find £4,184?
Caledonia Cremation is a charity-owned and operated funeral directors. We were set up to fight funeral poverty and provide full support to every bereaved person across mainland Scotland – regardless of their financial circumstances.
So, we ask everyone to think twice before using the P word. We must remove the pressure people feel to get into debt to pay for a big expensive funeral. We must show compassion for those who find themselves in this distressing position and support them towards the help that is available. Every person who has experienced loss deserves our compassion – not our judgement.
If we can help you, or someone you know, then please do get in touch.
Call 03000 11 33 11
Or if you would like to support us in our work, you can donate here
But we politely ask everyone reading this blog to never, ever use the P word ever again.
We’ve all read about the “alternative” funerals; Star Wars funerals; Viking funerals or New Orleans inspired processions.
So it inspired us to ask some of the team at Community Renewal (the charity that owns and operates Caledonia Cremation) about their end-of-life wishes.
We want to empower everyone to choose the funeral that is right for them or their loved one. In so doing, the funeral is more personal, less decisions need to be made after the person has passed away, and the bereaved may also avoid the pressure to pay a funeral bill they might not be able to afford.
Direct Cremation is one type of funeral that allows time and freedom to celebrate a loved one’s life in a way that is totally personal to them.
If we can advise you in anyway, please do get in touch. We are a social enterprise funeral directors who provide not-for-profit direct cremation across mainland Scotland.
Call 03000 113 311
A Quiet Revolution has backed our Gie it a bye… campaign with a very generous donation.
We are delighted to announce that we have just received an unbelievably generous pledge of £1,000 from the Scottish Charity, A Quiet Revolution
Jane Alcorn, Chair of A Quiet Revolution said:
“We’re a small Scottish charity trying to change the world one ceremony at a time.
We love what Caledonia Cremations’ Crowdfunding campaign is doing, encouraging people to give a little, that can mean a lot. We were delighted to contribute donations from couples we have married who have paid it forward.”
In addition to supporting bereaved people experiencing hardship, Caledonia Cremation offers families direct cremation which cuts out having to attend a burial or cremation.
“Frankly, this can be very hard to do when you’re feeling fragile,” said Jane.
“Direct cremation encourages families to think about what else they might prefer to do. This is where A Quiet Revolution can complement Caledonia. We have a small celebrant network who craft ceremonies with human kindness at their heart.”
Barbara Chalmers, Founder of A Quiet Revolution and a celebrant with the network said:
“As a celebrant, my goal is to help families get the right sort of send-off for them. A wake in the kitchen, a cuppa and cake in a local cafe or a gathering in the park with flasks and homemade buns can be a beautiful thing. We can craft and deliver a ceremony that offers moments of joy at an otherwise dark time… a proper celebration of a life.”
A Quiet Revolution can also pay for the celebrant for families in need.
If you would like to join A Quiet Revolution in supporting our work helping bereaved people across Scotland, then you can pledge here
Do you back our work supporting people facing funeral poverty in Scotland?
If so, then this September we ask – would you give up just one wee treat and donate that money to Caledonia Cremation so we can support those facing funeral poverty?
You could Gie it a bye for just one day this month, or one day a week or more if you are up to it – whatever you prefer! Every penny donated will help us support someone experiencing hardship.
It could be your morning coffee or roll, a takeaway lunch or your “one for the road” drink in the pub.
We aren’t asking for big donations – anything from £3 upwards will help us to support others.
So will you Gie it a bye so someone else can say a loving goodbye?
As Scotland’s first funeral directors set up to fight funeral poverty, we are delighted that more funeral directors are offering direct cremation.
In offering the bereaved more choice, the industry is going some way towards removing the pressure some feel to pay for a big expensive funeral they may not want or be able to afford.
We are seeing direct cremations advertised at low prices, and we are fully supportive of that.
However before purchasing – may we offer a word of advice?
Most funeral directors are caring and compassionate and will put your needs first. But…
- Some will not collect your loved one without a deposit being paid
- Some will use a low price to get you through the door and then try to upsell you items you don’t need to increase their profits.
- Some may even dissuade you from actually having a direct cremation and push you towards choosing a more expensive funeral to increase their profit
Please note that most funeral directors will not do this, and we only highlight the above to advise you in case you come across the small minority of profit orientated ones.
How Caledonia Cremation is different
- We are a charity-owned and operated funeral directors, so your wellbeing is our priority – not profit.
- We won’t hold your loved one to ransom. If you don’t have a deposit – we will go ahead and collect the deceased and proceed with the direct cremation.
- We are a not-for-profit funeral director, so we won’t upsell anything. We have two prices only; £1095 for a direct cremation or £1,190 including the return of ashes (but you can pick them up from us if you prefer).
- We never turn anyone away. If money is an issue, we will support you throughout.
If you have lost someone and need support organising the funeral. please do get in touch. We won’t pressurise you – our job is to empower you to make the decision that is right for you.
You can call our team on 03000 113 311 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
People from all walks of life choose direct cremation for themselves or their loved ones and there are lots of reasons why.
If you have ANY questions about direct cremation or how we support those facing hardship, then do get in touch.
You can call our team on 03000 11 33 11 or email us on email@example.com
When people mention a free funeral – the first thing that may come to mind is a local authority or “paupers” funeral as some cruelly call it. But that’s not the only option open to people who are struggling to pay for their loved one’s funeral.
The Scottish Government introduced the Funeral Support Payment (FSP) in 2019. The grant supports eligible individuals in receipt of low-income benefits with a payment towards funeral costs.
The one-off payment helps pay for the reasonable burial or cremation fees, some travel costs, and includes a standard flat rate for ‘other expenses’ of £1,000 where the client did not have a funeral plan (or £120 if there was a funeral plan).
So, if I am eligible for the payment, will that cover the whole cost of the funeral?
It depends on your circumstances and the type of funeral you choose for your loved one.
The average cost of a basic funeral with a cremation is £3,885 or with a burial is £5,033*. The most you can expect to receive is in the region of £1,700. So, you would still have to find money to pay for the extra and those figures do not include all the send-off costs like death and funeral notices, flowers, order sheets, limousines, the venue and catering for the wake.
Also, you may not receive the full payment.
What other options are there?
If you choose a direct cremation for your loved one’s send-off then you pay much less for the cremation and could have more money left over to hold a celebration of life or event which remembers your loved one in a way that is more personal to your memory of them.
The average cost of a direct cremation in the UK is £1,554* but as a social enterprise funeral director, we offer direct cremation for just £1,095 and we promise not to upsell like some other companies.
But that is not all….
We are charity owned and operated, so we also offer wrap around support from the moment you pick up the phone. We help our clients apply for the Funeral Support Payment and support with other areas such as registering the death. We also offer a free helpline for those who are really struggling and need more emotional support.
Direct cremation isn’t for everybody, but more people are choosing it – and not because it is a “cheap funeral”. Most of our clients actually come to us because it fits with their value base – a funeral that allows them the freedom to remember their loved one how THEY want – not how society dictates.
So, if you would like to find out more, then please do get in touch – your wellbeing is our only priority.
You can call our team on 03000 113 311 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
*Sunlife Cost of Dying 2021 Report
A welcome step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to banish funeral poverty.
The Competitions Market Authority announced new orders for the funeral industry on 16th June 2021*.
The Order requires that, from 16 September 2021, all funeral directors must display a Standardised Price List at their premises and on their website. This list must include:
• The headline price of a funeral.
• The price of the individual items comprising the funeral.
• The price of certain additional products and services.
In addition, from 17 June 2021, funeral directors may not:
• Make payments to incentivise hospitals, palliative care services, hospices, care homes or similar institutions to refer customers to a particular funeral director.
• Solicit for business through coroner and police contracts.
Crematorium operators will also be required to provide specified price information to funeral directors and customers.
We have been campaigning for transparent pricing since 2018, so this is a welcome development. Sadly, we have heard first-hand cases of people who have been upsold unnecessary items by a minority of profit-making funeral directors. As a consequence, the bereaved are left with a funeral cost they can’t afford to pay.
Once these orders are enforced, those struggling to afford a funeral will see more clearly what an essential and non-essential cost is, and therefore make a more informed decision on what they need to spend.
However the CMA order does not include the following:
• A requirement to list cost of grave itself.
• Details of products and services of what is included in an unattended funeral.
• Children’s prices included in core price list.
We hope these will be included in the CMA’s final recommendation.
What else need to be done?
We all have our part to play in eradicating funeral poverty.
This year, the cost of a basic funeral has gone up to £4,184** – the highest it has ever been*.
So what else can be done?
Most people do not “shop around” and accept the first quote they are given. This is quite understandable considering the distressed state of most bereaved families. However, by even looking at a few different funeral directors, people from low-income families could save themselves a considerable amount of money.
Lack of familiarity with the industry.
Most people only organise a very small number of funerals in their life – which means they lack in-depth knowledge of the industry and type of funerals available. As a result, the majority of funerals in 2021 were either burial or cremation.
However, there is another option – direct cremation. This is a cremation with no mourners present. It has been described as a modern alternative and it provides families more time to prepare a send-off which is more personal to them and their loved one. It is also considerably cheaper than your standard funerals. As one bereaved person stated:
“I am glad I chose to have a direct cremation because our memories now are of him alive, and we have no sad memories of a funeral.”**
However only 59% of people are aware of direct cremations.** Whilst direct cremation wouldn’t be the choice of everyone, we feel if more people were aware of this option, then they may feel empowered to choose it and could potentially avoid taking on a funeral debt they just can’t afford to pay back.
Perceived social pressure.
Some may think that they must go down the traditional funeral route to give their loved one a “proper send-off”. It has been calculated that the average cost of dying – which includes send-off costs, then goes up to £9,263!
But there are several ways to remember someone that don’t involve spending a huge amount of money.
Joe chose a direct cremation for his mother, as it fit with her values, and he organised a really personal event with friends and family afterwards. You can hear Joe’s story here
So, lets start talking to each other about end-of-life plans. Let us share stories and knowledge and empower each other to make the choice that is right for us and our recently departed.
After all, when has money been the measure of how much you love someone?
*To read the full recommendations – click here
**The Sunlife Cost of Dying 2021 Report
Since we began life as Scotland’s only not-for-profit funeral directors, we have heard numerous stories of bereaved people, already in a delicate state, being upsold funeral items that were neither necessary nor required. Consequently, they have been pushed into a debt they have struggled to repay months or years later. The perceived pressure to honour the deceased in a certain way, combined with people’s reluctance to shop around can also push people in a costly direction. The latest funeral debt figure in the UK stands at over £80 million* – with funeral costs disproportionately felt by those from low income households. Royal London’s Funeral Cost Index Report 2019 found that those with an income of less than £5,000 a year spent at least 65% of their annual income on a funeral, compared to 3% at most for those on £150,000 or more a year – inequality at its absolute worst.
Who knows what is going to happen after the furlough scheme ends? Unemployment rates could rise dramatically, so the issue of funeral poverty isn’t going to go away as more people experience unexpected hardship.
Since lockdown began last year, we saw how bereaved families found creative and extremely moving ways to say goodbye to their loved ones. Video streamed ceremonies and zoomed wakes are just some of the ways people marked the passing of a family member or friend. In a country where big expensive funerals are usually the norm, we are beginning to wonder – will this inspire people to reconsider their funeral choices in the future. As a charity currently fighting funeral poverty in Scotland- we certainly hope so!
We hope that all the publicity that surrounded lockdown funerals will inspire people to choose a funeral that is both personal AND affordable. This year and last, we supported several people who probably would have gone down the traditional route had it not been for the lockdown restrictions.
Our hope as lockdown is eased is that people are inspired by the variety of ways people have said their goodbyes and begin to re-imagine what a funeral can be. You can provide a beautiful and personal goodbye that won’t place additional financial pressure on you at an already stressful time.
It’s time to reimagine what a goodbye is and remove the pressure on the bereaved to spend money they just can’t afford – since when has money been the measure of how much you love someone?
If we can help you or someone you know, then please do get in touch:
Call 03000 11 33 11
*Royal London Funeral Cost Index 2021
The answer in most cases, is yes as John* sadly found out.
John’s uncle sadly passed away a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, his uncle had not left any financial plans in place and John did not have any savings set aside.
As John visited each local funeral director, he was told the same thing – we cannot proceed without a cash deposit. Four months later and with his uncle still lying in the morgue, John was finally put in touch with Caledonia Cremation.
We immediately collected his uncle without a deposit and proceeded with his cremation. We also supported John through the whole process and helped him apply for financial support.
No one should have to experience such a heart-breaking situation when already faced with a bereavement. That’s why Caledonia Cremation was established – to help people like John and anyone facing funeral poverty.
Allowing people to say goodbye to their loved one in a dignified way without financial distresses should be everyone’s right. We are doing everything we can to make this happen.
If you or someone you know needs support or advice, then please do get in touch:
By phone 03000 11 33 11
By email email@example.com
We are here for you.