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Coronavirus Update - Advice on How Best to Write a Funeral Notice

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Published 25/01/2021
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Funeral Director Fined £10,000 after 150 People Attend a Funeral

News broke this weekend that a Funeral Director in Mansfield, Hertfordshire has been fined £10,000 for 'failing to manage a bereavement event' properly. This is of course very worrying news for Funeral Directors, working tirelessly to ensure they comply with the latest and ever changing Coronavirus advice from UK and devolved Governments.
The organiser of this event, a man in his 30s, was also issued a £10,000 fine. Police both in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire had been aware of the funeral taking place on Thursday 21st January and had been working with family and partner agencies to ensure coronavirus guidelines were followed. You can read the story here.

Our Response: How Can a Funeral Notice Help to Comply with Current Restrictions on Attendance at Funerals?

Thankfully instances of huge numbers turning up at funerals are rare, which is why they make for sensational headlines. What this incident highlights though is how important it is for Funeral Directors to be involved in helping families announce the passing of loved ones. Every day we too are extremely saddened by the latest published numbers of those lives sadly lost to coronavirus. Announcing the passing of family members, friends, loved ones is an important part of the grieving process for many and provides them with a safe place online to come together to share their grief, memories and stories, make donations in memory and share photographs of happier times. A funeral notice is also an effective way of communicating vital information on how to view a funeral service online.

For Funeral Directors a funeral notice also serves as a way to help families to comply with the latest rules on attendance at funerals. By ensuring the notice does not state the date and time of the funeral and announces that the funeral service will be private, you are publishing proof of your compliance with restrictions whilst also allowing the family to benefit from announcing the passing of their loved one.

We publish hundreds of new notices every day. Based on these, we have put together some suggested Do's and Don'ts to help you to help your families whilst following the advice of SAIF and Government guidelines on attendance. These are suggestions based on our experience and for guidance only:
  • Do NOT mention the date/time of a funeral in a notice.
  • DO talk about the person who has passed away, including their family/friends and the date they passed.
  • DO consider booking the notice to appear after the funeral has taken place (this will ensure families get the benefit of announcing the passing with zero risk of non-compliance).
  • DO mention that the funeral will be/was private and/or by invitation only.
  • DO include details of the live stream/video of the funeral (A link to a web casting or video sharing website such as YouTube mentioned in a notice will be a clickable link once the notice is published on funeral-notices.co.uk).
  • DO include online donations in your notice in lieu of a collection plate at a service and encourage online donations to prevent the need to attend a funeral or your office to donate.
  • DO feel free to talk a little more about the person who has passed away in place of announcing the funeral itself. Their notice is providing a lasting legacy online and helps tell the story of their life.
Our audience numbers tell us there is a growing demand for your notices once published on funeral-notices.co.uk, with our visitor numbers growing week on week. We are always working to ensure your notices benefit not only yourselves as Funeral Directors but also your families. In addition to publishing your notices in our papers, we are also offering online notices for free for the duration of the pandemic. You can read more about that here.

What the NAFD and SAIF say

The NAFD were quick to publish their response to this incident, issuing a statement on 22nd January.

In their response they say: 'Funeral directors do not invite mourners to funerals. They work with the family to arrange the funeral and advise them of the restrictions, but it is the family that invite those people they want to be there with them. This case is one of unexpected mourners turning up – even when the funeral director has shown evidence to us that it was made absolutely clear to the family that there was a maximum limit on attendance in line with the guidance we have issued.'
In response the NAFD have written to all Chief Constables in the UK to ask them to confirm their position on this.

SAIF emailed their members on 23rd January to reassure them they will be taking this matter up on their behalf. SAIF also reminds it's members not to announce a time, date or venue in an obituary or funeral notice.

We are Here to Support You

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We have previously published advice from the Welsh Government on the Funeral Notices pages of the South Wales Echo following requests from a number of Funeral Directors in the area.

We want to help you to help families safely announce the passing of their loved ones whilst reducing the risk to all of funerals being attended by too many mourners.

If you are unsure of what to say in a notice, our team are always here to support you and available 09.00-17.00 weekdays on 03444 060273. Most questions have probably been asked before so we can advise you based on our experience and commitment to continued professional support for Funeral Directors throughout the pandemic.

A Reminder of the Current Restrictions on Funeral Attendees:

  • How Many People Can Attend a Funeral in England? - 30 people at a funeral (or less depending on venue size)
  • How Many People Can Attend a Funeral in Wales? - Number of mourners dependent on size of venue to allow for 2m distance between household bubbles. Further requirement for attendance at a funeral to be by invitation only.
  • How Many People Can Attend a Funeral in Scotland? - Protection levels 1 to 4: 20 people, protection level 0: up to 50 people.
  • How Many People Can Attend a Funeral in Northern Ireland? - Funerals are limited to 25 people.

Here to Help

If you would like to speak with us about this, would like more information on funeral-notices.co.uk or would like to suggest ways we can further support you; please contact us below and an Account Manager will be in touch:
Further advice on arranging or attending a funeral may be found on the gov.uk website.

As always, we will endeavour to keep you updated on changing information on the pandemic and continue to support you in as many ways as we can.

Thank you for reading.

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