Tackling Funeral Poverty in Lichfield Diocese

David Primrose, Diocese of Lichfield

Every week in the Diocese of Lichfield, our clergy and readers take an average over 160 funerals, yet when meeting with family members, people seldom consider how they will meet the funeral and associated costs. According to SunLife’s report Cost of Dying 2014, death-related expenses now average £8,427. One in seven people struggle to afford the funeral they want to give their loved one. Whilst we all want to encourage people to save towards these inevitable costs, in the Diocese of Lichfield, we are looking to support people who find themselves needing to borrow at a time of great vulnerability. We have already established good relationships with credit unions around the diocese, promoting school banks in our 200 church schools and encouraging couples, when they book their wedding, to consider saving for that day with their local credit union. We are now meeting with representatives from our credit unions, Quaker Social Action and Church Action on Poverty, to discuss funeral finances. We plan to prepare information that clergy and readers can leave with the family. These resources will include possible sources of local and national funding, as well as explaining how, if it is necessary to obtain a loan, the local credit union may offer reasonable repayment rates. We intend to develop this material in the Black Country before extending to cover the rest of the diocese. We would be delighted to learn from others involved in similar schemes.