Over the weekend we heard that the Government had finally approved the creation of a Child Funeral Fund. This has been a 2 year-long cross party and movement fight to see help given to parents all across the country.
My Labour Party colleague and friend, Carolyn Harris, has been a staunch campaigner and a cross party leader on this issue and has been campaigning for the fund following the tragic loss of her son Martin. My friend has been leading in the issue and asking the government to create a ‘Martins Fund’ for bereaved parents. She told her story and it is one that is echoed across the country for thousands of suffering parents.
I raised the need for the scheme in February at Prime Ministers Questions and I reminded the Government that 9 months on from the Prime Minister’s pledge to create Martins Fund, the government had not completed their commitment to establishing a Child Funeral Fund.
In that time, 3,000 families had to find the funding to bury their children, this was simply unacceptable and an indignity to those thousands of families having to suffer through the loss of a child. In addition, it is estimated that every year we lose around 3,800 children under the age of 18 with a further 2,700 still-births. This means that every second the government did not commit to the scheme; potentially more and more bereaved parents were left suffering alone. I asked the government if they will also back date the scheme, to help the already thousands of parents that have had to suffer alone, to continue in life while also dealing with a loss no one could begin to comprehend without having been through it. No parent should be left to deal with the loss of a child alone.
This new scheme will aim to stop this injustice by helping grieving parents through the loss of a child by providing the support they need. The scheme will provide up to £2,000 to help cover funeral costs which aims to reduce financial pressure on grieving parents. In addition, the scheme aims to reduce the burden for families by reimbursing burial authorities, cremation authorities and funeral directors directly. It is my hope that this scheme will also include mental and physical health support for all family members to support them holistically through their loss
The impact of this scheme having not been in place can be felt over the country, and in Oldham. Charlies Child Loss Charity was set up by two local parents following the tragic loss of their son Charlie. Hannah and Lee set up this charity to create a support network for grieving parents and they have been doing inspiring work helping people through their grief. This new scheme will aim to help support those families further and ensure that no parent is forced to go through this time alone. If you are currently suffering the loss of a child, please do take a look into this charity and the countless offers that can offer you support. You are not alone.
No amount of money or support will ever replace the child lost but parents will now no longer be left to fend for themselves during their grief.
The Children’s Funeral Fund will come into effect on the 23rd July 2019.