Posted on Sunday 30 June 2019

in News, Press releases

CLIC Sargent in “momentous” campaign victory for grieving parents as Children’s Funeral Fund finally announced

After two years of tireless campaigning, CLIC Sargent has today welcomed the news that the Government will establish the Children’s Funeral Fund, a move which will mean grieving parents no longer have to fear being plunged into debt by the cost of their child’s funeral.

This hugely significant change, that will help save bereaved parents up and down the country at risk of funeral poverty, is the result of two years of campaigning spearheaded by Carolyn Harris MP. Carolyn, who sadly lost her own son Martin when he was just 8 years old, delivered tearful and passionate pleas to the Prime Minister on behalf of all those who have lost a child and been forced into debt to pay for their funeral.

The Children’s Funeral Fund will help families in England following similar announcements in Scotland and Wales. CLIC Sargent will now be working closely with the Government to help implement this vital support.

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).

The Fund will cover burial and cremation fees and some associated costs. The Fund will make fees for a child’s funeral free for families at the point of need and is not means tested. It is available to all parents regardless of their nationality, or that of their child as long as the burial or cremation takes place in England.

Vicky Turner, 30, from Christchurch, the mother of Isabel Baker, who had leukaemia and passed away shortly after her first birthday, has campaigned with CLIC Sargent for the fund speaking in parliament about her story of how she struggled with the costs of cancer, losing her own home in the process.

Vicky has since set up the Isabel Baker Foundation fighting to help other families affected by issues like funeral costs, in partnership with CLIC Sargent.

Vicky said: “I know how it feels to lose your child, your job, your home and it’s so hard. That’s why we are delighted with the announcement of the Children’s Funeral Fund because it will provide much needed financial support to families experiencing the worst pain of their lives. In Isabel’s memory, we have been able to help a few families with these costs, but it is such a relief to know families will no longer have this added worry.”

Carolyn Harris MP said “Whilst I was talking about children’s funerals I had to revisit my own grief. But today, I know that sharing my beautiful son’s story was meant to be and that no other bereaved parents will have to worry about funeral costs.

“They will have time to grieve, not cause to worry. It has been a tough road to this bittersweet victory, but I am so pleased that the Prime Minister has kept her promise, and that at last Martin’s Fund will exist right across the UK.

“My pain will go on forever but so will Martin’s name. I’m so proud that even his short life will make such a difference to bereaved parents in the future.”

Kate Lee, Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent, said “This announcement has been a long time coming and it is a momentous day for everyone who has supported the campaign for a Children’s Funeral Fund over the last two years. We want to thank every single person who has tirelessly campaigned to make this fund a reality.

“But most importantly this is for every parent who has been plunged into debt to pay for their child’s funeral. As one mum said to us, no one should ever face the pain that they can’t afford ‘the last gift you’ll ever give your child’. This Fund is in memory of every one of their children.”

I know how it feels to lose your child, your job, your home and it’s so hard. That’s why we are delighted with the announcement of the Children’s Funeral Fund because it will provide much needed financial support to families experiencing the worst pain of their lives.

Vicky Turner, mother to Isabel Baker

How it happened – a timeline

  • In November 2016 Carolyn Harris MP hosted the first debate in Parliament on the costs of children’s funerals sharing her own story after she sadly lost her son Martin and really struggled with funeral costs herself. Our research showed that many bereaved parents were struggling to pay for their child’s funeral and there wasn’t enough financial support there to help them.
  • CLIC Sargent joined forces with Carolyn Harris MP and other partners such as Fair Funerals UK, Coop Funeral Care and Child Bereavement UK and the campaign for a Children’s Funeral Fund gained momentum.
  • In 2017, we launched an online campaign to ask supporters to email their MP calling for a Children’s Funeral Fund. Nearly 2,000 emails were sent to 86% of all MPs.
  • In March 2017 CLIC Sargent and Child Bereavement UK wrote to the Chancellor ahead of the 2017 Budget to ask for a Children’s Funeral Fund. In the same month, the Welsh government announced they would scrap children’s funeral fees.
  • Following continued campaigning from Carolyn, at the end of March 2018, the Prime Minister announced that the Government would be creating a Children’s Funeral Fund.
  • The Scottish Government swiftly followed suit in May 2018 by announcing that across Scotland families will not be charged for burial and cremations of children.
  • Delays meant that in 2019 there was still no sign of the Children’s Funeral Fund. Carolyn called out the Prime Minister on the lack of progress on this in May 2019 in a Parliamentary debate – she was supported by a joint letter organised by CLIC Sargent and Coop and signed by over 50 charities and cross-party group of MPs.

The Fund will be officially launched on 23rd July. Follow CLIC Sargent on social media and refer to our website for more updates.

Become a CLIC Sargent campaigner to help make change happen for children and young people with cancer.

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