Charity

Charity runs first ever pay-what-you-can funerals through Jan

A charity-owned funeral director has responded to the current Covid and cost of living crisis by offering pay-what-you can funerals for Lothian residents who have lost someone through the month of January.

John Halliday, co-founder of Caledonia Cremation, announced the decision after noting how 2021 was a “tough year for many”. He said following Covid restrictions which “disproportionately affected” low-income workers and a rise in energy prices and inflation it has created “a cost-of-living crisis”.

As such Halliday was moved to do “what he can” to help those in need.

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He said: “Caledonia Cremation is not a traditional funeral director. When we launched in 2018, we became Scotland’s only social-enterprise funeral director. That means our first concern is people and not profits.

“I see all around that this pandemic has made rich people richer and poorer people poorer. I strongly feel it is up to society to do our bit now in helping those worst affected, however we can. People need better food, cheaper housing, catch-up education and help back into work. We can’t do all those things, but what we can do something about the cost of funerals. “Sadly, it is a fact of life that everyone needs a funeral. But for some people their funeral is the most expensive purchase they ever make.”

He added: “The average cost of a basic funeral is over four thousand pounds. So, our contribution is this – we’ve decided to remove all our fees and just let bereaved families pay-what- you-can during this pandemic recovery period. There is no means testing, we trust people to know what they can and cannot afford.No one anywhere has ever done this before, so we are learning as we go.

“If someone wants to know the usual price, we can tell them. If generous people want to add more towards our fundraising to tackle the root causes of poverty, that is fantastic. But if all they can find to cover the funeral is a few hundred pounds, that’s absolutely fine too.No one should judge your worth based on the size of your savings.”

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