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Online crowdfunding for funerals rise by third in a year: ‘We had to beg for money to bury Mum’


Within days ofDaisy Haynes’mother passingaway last year at the age of 49, the only thing she could think was: “Howwillthefamilypayfor her funeral?”

She said: “I just laid staring at the ceiling until 3 or 4 in the morning trying to figure out how to pay for it. There were no other family members who could help.”

Before she died, her mother Nicole Wilkins, hadbecome severely depressed afterthe death of her husband six months earlier.She had nextto no money when she died and had not taken out life insurance, sothere were no funds tohelp fundher burial.

Once we realised she had no life insurance, we tried to find out if we were eligible for some support a funeral grant or something,” said Daisy.”But because we all work, we werent eligible for anything.

The self-employed illustrator quoted almost 5,000 by the first funeralcompany. For that, they would simply transport her mother’s body to the ceremony.

We couldnt afford it, and every door we tried to ask for help was slammed it back in our face, she said. I was thinking Id have to use my rent to pay for it.

She is one of many bereaved relatives who have been forced to publicly appeal for funds to pay to bury or cremate their loved ones.

Figures passed to The Independent by GoFundMe show that new campaigns to raise money forfunerals have increased by around a third in the past year.

The fundraising websiteis currently running more than 100 campaignsforpeople who explicitly says they cannot afford to pay for a funeral.

Separate figures from the Down to Earth campaign, which provides practical support for those struggling with costs, shows the number of people supported by their helpline team has trebled since 2015.

Last year it helped978 people, compared with 302 two yearsbefore.

Eventually, Daisy’s family were forced to go to extremes to bury their mother, selling valuables, taking out loans andlaunchinga crowdfunding campaign through GoFundMe.

My brother got out a loan from his employer,” she said.”We sold anything of any value in their house. Everything we could sell, we sold. I started a crowdfunding page.

To start with, I didnt tell my siblings about this. Were from a working class family and were proud people, so the thought of ushaving to go begging to friends for money was very difficult.

Funeral prices arerising at almost treble the rate of house prices, with thecost standing at4,078 in September last year up 4.7 per cent on the previous 12 months and up twofold since2004.

As a result,familieshave been forced to opt forcheaper coffins andheldwakes at hometo combat the rising prices.

Many haveactively cut back on certain aspects of the funeral to keep costs down.

Every local authority in the UK has a statutory duty to make arrangements forso-called “paupers”funerals, which occur when a person diesand theirfamily is unable to be traced or, sometimes, when the family is unable to pay.

But these are heavily means tested andapplicants must pass a rigorousvetting process.

The government alsoprovides Funeral Expenses Payments, which can help pay for burial fees,cremation fees, travel to arrange or go to the funeral and death certificates or other documents. But these funds are also grantedon a means tested basis, meaning people must receive certain benefits or tax credits to be eligible.

Julie Dunk, chief executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), which observes standards of burial and cremation authorities, said there had been a rise in people opting to carry out funerals themselves.

Weve seen a rise in the number of direct cremations, where theres a cremation but no funeral service, and then the ashes are given to the family and they can have their own memorial service, she told The Independent.You can now buy coffins directly off the internet, so a lot of people are doing the funeral arrangement part of it themselves.

Rather than asking a funeral director to collect the deceased and provide the coffin and the hearse, families may collect the deceased themselves or look after them at home, provide a coffin, provide transport to the crematorium. At a time when youre distressed and grieving, its not easy.

A Government spokesperson said: Funeral Expenses Payments provide an important contribution towards funeral costs and we recently made it easier to claim.In cases when its not possible for a family to organise a funeral, local authorities can make arrangements.



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