When the GFG, in conjunction with the Plunkett Foundation, announced a community funerals initiative back in 2012, we supposed that someone might pick it up and run with it. The Plunkett Foundation, far cleverer than us, was pretty confident they would. They contacted all their community shops and community pubs and we waited with bated breath to see what happened next.
Absolutely nothing. Zilch. Squat.
So we are really pleased to learn of the emergence of a community funerals initiative on the other side of the world – in SE Australia in the steel town of Port Kembla, a place where, according to its community enterprise website, “no one wanted to live” until recently, but “now there is a change in the atmosphere”. It does look a bit like one of those unprepossessing places that brings out the best in people.
The purpose of the Port Kembla community funerals enterprise is to “empower people around death and dying, and offer a not for profit funeral service that is affordable and highly personalised to support healthy bereavement.” It is called Tender Funerals.
Tender Funerals will “offer affordable and flexible services and a transparent fee structure, to minimise the financial impact of funeral care. It will counter the idea that the amount of money spent on a funeral is a reflection of the amount a person was loved.”
“Tender Funerals will offer personalised services that demystify death and dying, and involve a model of community support, to assist healthy bereavement. This will include unique offerings of information and support, funeral services that celebrate and acknowledge both a person’s death and their life, and support and facilitation of active participation and community support in funeral care.”
They will also create an education programme to teach people about issues around death and dying: “We will develop and implement a community development model to provide ongoing support and community awareness … By providing a more open approach to death and the process around caring for the dead it is envisaged that people will become for familiar with death as an inevitable part of life.”
“Tender Funerals is re–imagining the way in which we as a community deal with death and provide a context within which the community is informed and empowered to ensure that the end of life process is one which is meaningful, authentic and good value.
“It will be a community resource and a funeral care provider that responds to shifts in community needs, attitudes, ideas and experiences in relation to death and dying.
“It will also develop a model for not-for profit funeral care that supports healthy bereavement, and empowered decision making at end of life, which can be replicated in other communities.”
The Port Kembla Community Project already has a scheme which offers no-interest loans up to $1,000.
Tender Funerals is presently crowdfunding to raise the money it needs to get off the ground. Check out the vision statement.
Its originators have had a film made about them – you can see the trailer at the top of the page.
Here at the GFG we’ve sent them a few bob to help them on their way. And we wish them every possible success.