Weekly Community Roundup – 15th October 2021

Funeral Partners funeral homes help bereaved families raise £5m for charities through online tributes

Funeral Partners funeral homes have helped families collectively raise more than £5 million for charities in memory of loved ones through MuchLoved since the online tribute platform’s partnership with Funeral Partners began in 2015.

Over 20,000 individual MuchLoved tribute pages have been created by Funeral Partners funeral homes on behalf of clients, where friends and family can contribute to digital memorials, see funeral notice information and donate to charities or causes in memory of their loved ones.

Richard Baker, Funeral Partnerships Manager at MuchLoved, said: “The £5m landmark is an incredible milestone to have surpassed and is testament to the hard work that is put in day after day by the teams within Funeral Partners.

“Over the last 18 months the number of pages set up by Funeral Partners branches has increased dramatically and donations have more than doubled, as arrangers helped provide a way for the families they serve to connect with one another in the most testing of times.”

More than 107,000 donations have been made to 1,662 charities over the past six years, with £389,744 being raised for Cancer Research UK, £229,698 going towards Woking & Sam Beare Hospices and £183,874 being donated to Alzhemier’s Society, followed closely by the British Heart Foundation receiving £182,392.

MuchLoved has seen significant growth in popularity over the last year due to Covid-19 restrictions making physical tributes challenging for families to arrange.

Richard said: “Being able to offer online donation services encompassing both bereavement support and the ability to manage Gift Aid donations helps families come together for their loved ones in these challenging times.”

Charities have been supported through the pandemic, with £1.3m being raised by Funeral Partners clients and their friends and families in 2020 alone.

Richard explained: “The income of our charity partners has suffered significantly over the last year as restrictions have caused the cancellation of most, if not all, of their traditional revenue sources.”

Steph Dunst, Regional Engagement Operations Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “In-memory fundraising has always been a crucial part of our fundraising efforts, but never more so in the last 18 months, as we saw other fundraising initiatives and events simply become wiped from the calendar.

“The pages set up by Funeral Partners’ teams and managed by MuchLoved have provided the most appropriate place for our supporters to remember their loved ones, whilst providing vital funding for our services.”

Kelly Hailou, Marketing Director at Funeral Partners, said: “In February we hit a milestone with our families collectively raising more than £3m for charities through MuchLoved tribute pages. Now, just months later, that figure has jumped to £5 million.

“There’s no denying the comfort and sense of unity this online service brings families, especially after the last year-and-a-half of social distancing restrictions. We look forward to continuing to see our clients using this service and helping charities receive the much-needed donations in memory of lost loved ones.”

Increasing mental health measures to support funeral teams post-lockdown

After a challenging 18 months for teams at our 200-plus funeral homes across the UK, we at Funeral Partners have increased measures to support the mental health of employees.

Any Funeral Partners employee can now apply to become a Mental Health Champion and support colleagues struggling with their wellbeing, be it through a conversation or assisting them with a referral to specialist help.

Carolyn McCauley, Funeral Arranger at John Gray & Co Funeral Directors in Bangor, Northern Ireland, was pleased to be accepted into the programme and given the opportunity to challenge the stigma around mental health. She said: “We all have a trained first aider nearby in case of physical injury to our bodies, so it makes sense to also have a first aider for our minds.

“Being able to provide an early intervention for someone who may be developing mental health issues is invaluable, and a responsibility I’m proud to have.”

Carolyn was one of 16 applicants who underwent two days of training over Zoom by Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA), where she learned how to support people with depression, anxiety, self-harm, psychosis, PTSD and suicidal thoughts.

She said: “I found the training to be both fascinating and enlightening. As all of us have a common interest in supporting the wellbeing of our colleagues, we bonded well and were able to share our own thoughts, feelings and fears without judgment.”

Carolyn looks forward to opening up the conversation around mental health in her workplace and is pleased to hear Funeral Partners is already launching a second intake for Mental Health Champions. She concluded: “The value of knowing you have helped make a difference to someone’s life is too great to be measured.”

Funeral Partners’ Northern Ireland funeral homes have also been supporting the wellbeing of those in their local communities by offering online mental health webinars to local nursing home staff.

Michelle McMaster is a qualified trauma therapist, social worker and mental health trainer who has worked in the funeral industry for over 20 years, helping the care sector and funeral homes look after their teams’ mental health through one-to-one and group sessions.

Michelle worked closely with Julian Hodgkinson, Regional Development Director of Funeral Partners in Northern Ireland, and Beverley Brown, Community Relationship & Marketing Manager, to come up with a solution that all the Funeral Partners funeral homes in Northern Ireland could offer their local nursing homes.

Michelle said: “We began hosting online seminars through video calls. However, it became apparent that nursing home staff had limited time to attend given the increasing demands they faced at work.”

This resulted in creating mental health webinars, which will be recorded and uploaded to the funeral homes’ websites over the next month, so nursing and care staff can access these videos to learn about a range of topics in their own time.

Michelle explained: “Funeral directors from James Brown & Sons in Belfast to Adair & Neeley in Londonderry can now show these videos to their local nursing and residential homes so they can receive the support they need at their own pace.”

Pending the success of these webinars the concept will be used across the rest of the Funeral Partners network to help nursing and care staff with practical advice and support.

Caz Denning braves the shave to support children living with cancer 

Caz Denning, Funeral Director of J H Way Funeral Services in Teignmouth, donated her hair to children living with cancer after witnessing how the disease affects local families, raising over £2,000 for charity in the process.

Caz and her niece Sam had their hair chopped off at Sam’s tearoom, NaughTEA, by local hairdresser Lisa Radford so it could be made into wigs for children living with cancer by Little Princess Trust.

Caz said: “Being a funeral director inspires me to always give something back. If you’re safe and healthy, you’re very lucky, and should always try to do good for others.

“This is especially true for children living with cancer, which I’ve seen deeply affect families across Teignmouth.”

Caz and Sam couldn’t organise sponsored haircuts last year due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic but were determined to do so as soon as they could. The pair set up a JustGiving page with a £500 fundraising target in June and were surprised at how quickly donations came in.

Friends, family, colleagues and clients collectively donated £1,000 to the fundraiser within weeks, which now stands at more than £2,000.

Caz said: “Funeral Partners was kind enough to design posters for us to hang up around our branch and at NaughTEA, which were a massive help in raising awareness in the Teignmouth community.

“The power of social media also cannot be understated, as we saw friends, family and Funeral Partners colleagues from across the UK showing their support and deciding to contribute.”

Caz and Sam felt a range of emotions as the time finally came to go under the clippers with family and friends cheering them on.

Caz described: “I was excited and terrified at the same time, and once it was all over, I felt very proud and liberated. Sam had very long hair, so she didn’t need to have a full-on head shave like me.”

Wendy Tarplee-Morris, Founder of the Little Princess Trust, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Caz and Sam for their support of our charity. Their terrific help means we can continue to provide real hair wigs, free of charge, to children and young people at a very difficult time in their lives.

“We know our wigs help to restore the confidence and identity of the young recipients, but we can only provide this free service thanks to the selfless acts of our brilliant supporters!”

Now, looking forwards to 2022, Caz hopes to raise funds by jumping out of a plane with colleagues from J H Way. She concluded: “Although it’s a year away I’m already nervous, but it will be well worth it.”

Donations can be made to Sam & Caz’s Cut and Shave fundraiser at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sam-campbell-smith

Dunmurry Crochet Club celebrate their 5th Anniversary

Terry Weir a Funeral Director at James Brown & Sons Funeral Directors unites with Dunmurry funeral home’s Crochet Club to celebrate their 5th Anniversary. There are currently 18 members but unfortunately not everyone was able to attend.

Terry created the club in 2016 as part of community outreach, running every other Tuesday evening in a meeting room at the Dunmurry funeral home.

Terry and the others celebrated by having a meal and a specially made 5th anniversary cake at a local hotel.

Window Display for Baby Loss Awareness Week

This week the 9- 15th of October is Baby Loss Awareness Week which raises awareness for pregnancy and baby Loss. Abbotsfield Funeral Directors, Hereford have created this beautiful window display to show their support to those who have been affected by pregnancy and baby loss.