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Consultation begins on natural burial charter

Customer care standards at natural burial grounds could soon rise as the result of an industry-wide consultation regarding a proposed new national charter.

The Charter for the Bereaved and Natural Burial Grounds would outline the necessary standards of customer care and service to ensure a consistent level is maintained and the public feel peace of mind when selecting a natural burial option.

Developed by the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) in conjunction with numerous UK private and public sector natural burial operators, the charter is endorsed by the founder of the UK’s first natural burial ground, Ken West MBE.

If the industry adopts the charter after the three-month consultation process, it will be made available to all natural burial grounds. The charter would be backed up by an annual submission and assessment, validated by an independent panel, to help owners identify areas in need of improvement and work towards achieving the proposed standard levels.

According to the ICCM, increased public demand has seen the number of natural burial grounds in the country overtake the number of crematoria. It is this sector growth that has seen the organisation, which represents authorities that own the majority of the country’s natural burial grounds, launch the consultation.

Under the proposed charter, the public would have the right to receive information on the future plans of a natural burial ground and its ownership, so its operation and burial options are presented in a transparent manner.

The charter aims to highlight the importance of ensuring that the public is aware of the respective policies on grave digging procedures, embalming, acceptable memorials, funeral directing services, and options available in terms of coffins and shrouds.

Chief executive of the ICCM Tim Morris said: “With public demand for natural burials rising exponentially, many new operators and local authority providers have entered the marketplace leading to a great variation in what each burial ground offers in terms of service, quality and environmental management.

“The diversity of how natural burials are currently being operated, coupled with the sector’s rapid growth, has led to some confusion and concern among the public. I believe the operators that will sign up to the charter will be those that offer a professional service that gives the public that all important peace of mind.

“The Institute is pleased to undertake consultation with the industry. We believe the introduction of this new charter will complement the existing Charter for the Bereaved and will truly represent the industry as a whole.”

To view the draft charter in full and take part in the consultation visit www.consultationcounts.co.uk

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