Speaking truth to power: a decade of groundbreaking work on funeral poverty
When QSA first started thinking about the impact of a death in the family for people on low incomes, a decade ago, the phrase “funeral poverty” hadn’t been coined. Any discussion on the subject in the media was confined to a few articles on the consumer pages of the broadsheets and the issue was barely touched upon in parliamentary debate.
This subject first came up as an issue for QSA when we were listening to families we worked with, whose existence was often very hand to mouth, telling us about the kinds of unexpected expenses that tipped them into financial precariousness, debt and stress. Funerals came up fairly frequently so we decided to research these a bit more.
QSA has a reputation for innovation and is deeply fortunate in having unrestricted funding from charitable foundations and individual Quaker supporters to support such research and development. This enabled us to spend considerable time trying to understand this issue more, talking to bereaved people, the funeral industry, religious leaders, academics, health professionals and researchers. What help was available for people in that gap between a death and a funeral? We could see faith leaders providing spiritual support, and funeral directors assisting with the practicalities. But what if someone was worried about the cost, or knew they couldn’t meet the cost at all? Who was there to help?
We found no-one. So, in 2010, QSA launched Down to Earth, to offer practical support to access an affordable and meaningful funeral followed by the Fair Funerals campaign in 2014, to push for national change.
Our report Speaking truth to power: a decade of groundbreaking work on funeral poverty, launched at an event at Friends House in London on 18 November 2019, assesses progress made to date by QSA and our partners in the fight against funeral poverty, and sets out a bold vision for continuing to tackle this issue.
Thank you to Quakers and Business who provided a grant for the report and event.
Originally published at https://quakersocialaction.org.uk/