Weekly Community Roundup – 26th February 2021

Cruse Bereavement Care Partnership

Funeral Partners funeral homes across Northern Ireland have partnered with Cruse Bereavement Care to help provide wider support to bereaved people in Northern Ireland.

Processing grief and loss can be almost unbearable for some in normal circumstances, but this has been heightened beyond comprehension during the pandemic.

The partnership will provide funding to help Cruse recruit and train 20 new Bereavement Volunteers to provide online grief support sessions.

Hunting treasure to unwind in trying times as a funeral director

Adventurous Funeral Director Mike Smith of John Gray & Co Funeral Directors, which has branches in Bangor and Holywood, Northern Ireland, has uncovered over 60 hidden caches across County Down to help him stay in a strong frame of mind to support families.

Mike tracks the caches through Geocaching, a phone app that lets users hide trinkets, messages and more for people across the world to discover via GPS.

He said: “As funeral directors, we’re taught to look after ourselves and be able to break away from day-to-day pressures so we can be in a strong frame of mind to help families, which has proven challenging during the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Geocaching has been a fantastic way to achieve a sense of adventure and escapism, which is hard to do during lockdown restrictions.”

Mike was introduced to Geocaching by his niece, who runs a busy cattery in Scotland and had difficulty winding down at home during the pandemic.

He was inspired by the beautiful vistas she discovered and posted to Facebook during her Geocaching trips so downloaded the app in October to explore County Down.

He said: “I initially got into Geocaching to give me more reason to go outside for exercise, and was surprised at how rewarding it is to uncover the variety of caches and log them into my profile on the app.

“Some caches contain trackables, which are small physical game pieces that can be moved from geocache to geocache. Most trackables want to travel and have an eventual goal. For many caches, the idea is to take out a small trinket or toy and leave something of similar value in return. One of the most interesting caches I have found to date was shaped like a pinecone.”

The Geocaching store offers a range of creative tools for users to find or hide treasure with, including GPS devices and caches shaped like animals.

Mike hopes to find many more caches in the coming months, even beyond lockdown, and has considered hiding some of his own for fellow adventurers to discover.

He said: “I’ve now got a good idea of where caches can be placed in County Down to make it challenging yet rewarding, so keep your eyes peeled.”

Friendship Week

Funeral Director Terry Weir kindly delivered fresh doughnuts to members of the Dunmurry Crochet Club during Friendship Week this February.

Roles in the funeral industry involve being a friend to the local community, knowing others and being known, investing and enriching the lives of others.

Random Acts of Kindness

Never more so than since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak have, we witnessed acts of kindness from strangers or people we know, as we continue to navigate our way through the ever-changing world in which we live in.

This Random Acts of Kindness Day, 17th February the teams in Scotland gave out small kindness gift bags to families.

“To be kind is good. To be kind without expecting anything in return is better. Generosity is doing something for someone else expecting nothing in return.” Katherine Hepburn

Hampers for Heroes

William H Painter Funeral Directors received a hamper from Hampers for Heroes thanks to a nomination made by Funeral Director, Victoria Fallon who wanted to acknowledge the sustained efforts of the team who have supported bereaved families with the utmost care and attention throughout the most trying of times.

“All of my colleagues have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic helping families say goodbye to their loved ones. In the most difficult of circumstances. They have given up annual leave, worked extended hours and have been professional and upheld high standards throughout.”

The hamper will be split out between everyone in the team.

To find out more about Hampers for Heroes visit their website https://hampersforheroes.net/

Funeral directors champions creative solutions for Barnsley families in challenging times

Hammerton’s Funeral Directors, Barnsley, has adopted creative ideas and community initiatives to support local families through the Covid-19 outbreak.

Hammerton’s joined the Funeral Partners family of high-quality funeral businesses in 2020 at a time when funeral directors were needed more than ever. Melanie Torley, Operations Manager at Hammerton’s, described: “There was little government guidance at the start of the outbreak and a lot of questions locally from clients. But with the help of Funeral Partners’ robust policies and procedures we were able to continue caring for families safely.”

To maintain social distancing, many families and friends couldn’t use limousines for their loved ones’ funeral processions during the first wave of the pandemic. The Barnsley funeral directors therefore fitted their fleet with internal screens between the driver and passengers to help reduce the risk of transmission and enable at least part of the traditional send-off people sought.

Melanie said: “There were still restrictions for clients from government measures and internal guidelines, but at all times we aimed to carry out their loved ones’ wishes.”

Limits on the number of people attending funerals also led Hammerton’s to plan special procession routes so friends and family could stand alongside roads leading to the service and pay their respects. Melanie said: “There have been beautiful sights of people lining pavements, all socially distanced, and clapping as the hearse drives past.”

Following a comprehensive, ‘Covid-secure’ risk assessment at the Hammerton’s funeral home, Melanie was delighted to still be able to offer families visits to the chapel of rest. She said: “Families being able to visit loved ones in our on-site chapel of rest is an important part of the grieving process, and we are pleased to offer this in a Covid-secure way.”

Hammerton’s also donated £2,000 towards Lucas Gardens, a memorial garden being created in a tranquil part of Barnsley Crematorium for young people who pass away. Melanie explained: “A family we cared for wanted somewhere special to scatter their son’s ashes, so they came up with the idea of Lucas Gardens for young people like him.

“Local and national lockdowns have resulted in work stopping and starting, but we are keen to see the peace that Lucas Gardens will give Lucas’ family, and others in their position, in order to help the grieving process.”

Funeral Partners has supplied Hammerton’s with technology such as web cams so virtual arrangements can be made for those self-isolating, and Melanie and her colleagues look forward to resuming their regular community initiatives, such as monthly bereavement café sessions, when restrictions finally ease. She concluded: “Not being able to provide physical comfort and support has been tough on the team and our families.

“We’re huggers here at Hammerton’s, so it’ll be great to give families more comfort when we’re finally able to do so.”

 I think of you 

A new year, I remember the old times, I am thinking of you and what would have been

Glistening icicles melt and fall into little rivers of melted snow, I look in to the crisp blue sky and think of you

As gardens awaken from their winter slumber I watch the daffodils and blue bells paint the landscape, it reminds me of you

Rainbows appear in the sky against a backdrop of stormy clouds, I think of you and make a wish

I feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, everything is bright and vibrant….it reminds me of you

Bumble bees dance from flower to flower, I listen to them hum their tune while I think of you

Long hazy days of summer, the air is still, then a gentle breeze whispers…. I love you

A summers evening, I listen to the birds, smell the flowers and watch the sun set, the most perfect setting to think of you

The air is filled with the sweet smell of hay, summer is about to say farewell, throughout the seasons I have never stopped thinking of you

It’s the beginning of autumn, the leaves have turned orange, vibrant red and brown, I watch them fall from the trees and think of you

The nights draw closer now…I watch the sun disappear over the horizon, another day without you has passed, I miss you

Snow has fallen, Jack Frost has painted pretty pictures on the window…its cold outside… so I sit by the embers and think of you

 By Pauline Lawrence