Co-op launches new funeral Covid-19 funeral packages
The Co-op has launched a range of services and packages for mourners unable to attend funerals due to the coronavirus lockdown.
With churches and crematoriums closed to the public during the pandemic, and a spike in deaths, funeral directors are trying to cope with the new rules.
Co-op said it would be offering cortege services to pass by loved ones favourite place, or pass the family home to allow those isolating a chance to pay their last respects.
The firm added it has also become the first national funeral provider to introduce a direct burial service, which does not have an attended service.
And with flowers in short supply, Co-op added it would team up with suppliers to ensure families and friends have easy access.
The move comes as a group of Tory MPs call on the Church of England to ease restrictions during the coronavirus outbreak to allow small-scale funerals in churches.
The 36 MPs say clergy should be allowed to enter their churches to officiate at funerals while observing safety measures.
Funerals can currently only take place at the graveside or the crematorium, although some are only allowing guests to remain outside, socially distancing.
Sam Tyrer, managing director for Co-op Funeralcare said: “We are arranging funerals in a way we would never have thought possible just weeks ago so that bereaved families can continue to honour their loved ones in a unique and beautiful way and say their best possible goodbyes.
“Whilst communities are not able to come together as they usually would to pay their respects, we have made sure that there are other ways for those impacted to be part of their loved one’s final journey.”
Social distancing restrictions have meant floral tributes for funerals have hard to find.
In response to this, Co-op has partnered with Flowerbx to ensure it is able to continue to provide families with access to a range of fresh floral tributes on all funerals nationwide.
The changes come as Co-op launched a new Hardship Fund, to provide families of keyworkers who have died due to Covid-19 and who are in financial hardship, with a £250 contribution towards funeral costs.
The company is also lining up remembrance services for future dates once lockdown is lifted, with other ideas under consideration.
Co-op said it helped one farming family in South Devon after the closure of their local church, by giving grandfather, Les Elliott, 85, a unique send-off on his farm, with his favourite tractor carrying his coffin.
Granddaughter Tamsin Oakley said: “The farm is our family home and I thought it was the perfect place for us to say our last goodbyes.”
And in Leeds, 78-year-old Ann, paid tribute to her husband George, 82, by playing the family’s chosen funeral music through a Bluetooth speaker to mourners outside the crematorium.
Due to Cottingley Hall Crematorium’s decision not to allow mourners to enter the building, Ann led George’s hearse procession to its doors and said goodbye outside before he was laid to rest.