To SAIF – an open letter from a member

Fran Hall

 

 

An open letter to SAIF, the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors from Cara Mair, Director, ARKA Original Funerals, sent 4th May 2018.

 

Dear all at SAIF

I write this to you as a longstanding member of SAIF, in the hope that you will not see this letter negatively, but more as a positive tool to allow you to look at how SAIF can move forward. I hope that this letter will begin a dialogue on how the training that you offer can be more inclusive and how, at the heart of this training, should be the empowerment of the community that we serve. Where we find ourselves today in this fast-changing society let us be the disruptors and not the disrupted. To be truly bold and take leadership in this area and create a legacy that other independent funeral directors can build upon.

I have worked in the funeral world since 1998, beginning my days as a chauffeur/bearer at the Co-op in Brighton. After that experience, I trained as a freelance embalmer and worked with many funeral directors across the South East. My first hand experience of working in this secretive funeral world was dismal and I was adamant that I would stay in this profession and make a difference. In November 2003 ARKA Original Funerals opened in Brighton and since then things have changed in the funeral world and there have been many reasons for this. From The Natural Death Centre and The Good Funeral Guide showing how we as a community can be more involved. To forward-looking, inclusive funeral directors such as ARKA, Green Funeral Company etc and of course technology allowing the public to be far more informed re choice and insight into the funeral process. All of these factors have been key to increasingly making a difference ensuring that funeral directors are held more accountable for the way that we work. I also believe that there are many things that would not have changed in the funeral industry if it were not for pioneers like those mentioned above.

With twenty years’ experience, I know of many people and organisations working within this industry who could put a comprehensive training programme together that would benefit us all. There is more and more discussion about how being more involved with the care of the deceased can help people through the grieving process. The communities that we serve should have the right to be supported in caring for their dead and not be ‘protected’ by the ‘professionals’.

I attended the AGM of SAIF in Brighton in March this year. The whole experience was very disappointing. There was also much disgruntlement about how SAIF was representing us all. To focus on pre-paid funeral plan selling as a way to secure your business in the future is an extremely narrow viewpoint. This is such a blinkered vision of how things could proceed. These plans are marketed so aggressively and instead of empowering the public to take control of decisions (as they’re so often marketed as) they are instead further disempowering people and misinforming many. This whole process is contemptible scare mongering and I am sure that you know that you will not keep up with the big boys in this area.

What I find so disheartening was how you totally dismiss the progressive movement that is happening, both with new independents opening up and also individuals supporting funerals in new ways. To move SAIF forward and to mark independent funeral directors distinctly apart from the corporates is to be outstanding in the quality of support we can offer in the way that we work and present ourselves. To work in a refreshing empowering way that the corporates cannot compete with.

The training that you offer, as you are probably aware, is out of date. You focus on what you can sell rather than what you can give. You come from a stance of protecting yourselves rather that empowering others. Your training should include how we communicate to the public by looking at changing the use of the language that is bandied around and more insight into how we can offer permission to people to be involved in looking after their own dead.

There is really nothing that sets you apart from the corporates in the public eye. You dress the same. You put false value in things such as cars. You are secretive. You pay no importance to the collection and ‘care of the deceased’.

I propose to you that your training should be developed to include a natural way of looking after a body and to become more creative in looking at the role of the Funeral Director in the 21st century. Here’s how it could be achieved.

Each organisation should have a representative who would be knowledgeable, capable and willing to support families with a more hands on approach in looking after their dead. This representative could also support the other staff that you have to ensure that the environment is supportive and safe.

Believe me, this will not only help your organisation, but will also give much more work satisfaction to the people that are involved in your company and you will feel prouder of the support that you can offer.

This letter comes from a place of caring and of concern that what you stand for will rapidly disappear if you do not drastically change what you are doing and how you represent others. I ask that you seriously consider the points I have raised and not hide from what needs to happen.

I am up for a conversation, to go through these points and to find some solutions as to how you will still exist in a more empowering way for both the public and your members within this fast-moving landscape.

I very much look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Cara Mair

Director, ARKA Original Funerals

 

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80 Comments on "To SAIF – an open letter from a member"

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Public
Guest
Public I find that article that Simon just posted a good one. Also, as a member of the public, I’ve learned a lot from this long and winding discussion on this particular blog post. But I still feel that Cara’s letter is being misread by some as criticism of other SAIF members. I didn’t think that was what she was saying. So I hope you can read it in a different light and see that you are all striving for the same goals. I’m probably never going to be bring myself to be involved in any of the aspects of… Read more »
Jo Loveridge ALBANY FUNERALS
Guest

An excellent letter and not in any way insulting or negative towards SAIF – just a simple plea to be a little bit more FORWARD THINKING -which is surely no bad thing!! From some of the comments on here you can see how little some of you are embracing change. This change – I might add is being driven by everyday people that WANT different Funerals to their parents!!! Thank god for some of you guys here.
Thank you!!!!

Robert Helliar-Moore
Guest
So there is a way to write a balanced, fair, sensitive and well researched about this subject – without making people feel they are wrong – whatever their opinion on the subject. The history is long and winding and it is nothing new – trends change it seems and what was in 30 years ago is out now and what was out is in. It’s interesting how ideas get portrayed as novel or ‘progressive; when they are merely something that isn’t something society currently ‘accepts’ at the current time or is out of favor. This article shows clearly how the… Read more »
Simon Smith
Guest
I am coming into this debate quite late and it is difficult to pin it down to one issue but the one that interests me most is whether the current training provided by the industry is reflecting the massive changes taking place in the public’s expectations of funerals. Yes, a lot has been done on the surface – we now have many different types of coffins, a majority of funerals taken by celebrants, some different venues, any kind of music and all these point to additional choice for families to make funerals more personal and meaningful. However, for example the… Read more »
Michael Jarvis
Guest

Well said, Simon.

Public
Guest

I agree with what you say and find the green fuse website cara mentioned very informative. For me, it fills in some gaps (but not all) and would help me when sorting out another funeral.

More Public.
Guest

Yet anyone can set up as a training association and provide self accreditisation.

Tim Morris
Guest

Anyone can set up as a funeral director with no qualifications. In the whole of the funeral sector the only qualification required by law is that for the operation of cremation equipment.
Regulation???

Michael Jarvis
Guest
Regulation? I am quite prepared to accept that arguments can be advanced in favour of it either by way of registration, licensing, or some such. Appropriate drafting could be a nightmare, though. As I don’t want to appear in court soon, I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine how it might be difficult for the draftsmen to obtain truly unbiased advice. An added problem is that the weight of argument against is pretty strong. One thing better than learning from one’s mistakes is learning from other people’s, and those who see registration as some sort of panacea should look… Read more »
Public
Guest
I would like to understand this more. Regulation of all the different bits to do with preparing a body for burial or cremation, and the burial or cremation itself wouldn’t necessarily have to involve requirements for particular training would it? And presumably there are some regulations which already affect embalming e.g. what can / can’t be done with the surgical waste it generates? I presume the lack of regulation as to what can / can’t be done to dead body before burial or cremation means that all kinds of things could be done to a corpse if the customer wanted… Read more »
Ru Callender.
Guest

Why do people want to see everything ‘regulated’ as if that’s going to be some sort of universal panacea? And what about people who want to do it all themselves? Having been a self taught undertaker for nearly 20 years now I can tell you this. Dead bodies aren’t complicated, living ones are. Any regulation is not going to stop bad funeral directors from mishandling the bereaved, and that’s where the real damage is done.

Gemma O'Driscoll
Guest
Hi Simon, I concur with many of your points particularly the importance of training within the profession. I too thought it was a great shame that the Foundation degree at Bath University was so short lived. With regards to the NAFD diploma, well there are of course the courses offered by both the BIFD and the IFD, as well as Green Fuse, and the conglomerates of course have their own courses as well so there are more than 180 people undertaking training a year but I agree that training needs to be taken more seriously. I also agree that there… Read more »
Public
Guest
Hi Gemma, yes – but don’t forget that when you’re inside an organisation that you work for one has a completely different view into it from someone completely outside, like me, a member of the public or part way in, like your members. Good Funeral Guide has taught me something – some funeral directors are part of huge national chains although they look like the same local business that has been there for donkeys’ years and still use the old name, and others are much smaller concerns (not sure how small one has to be to be considered “independent”. I’ve… Read more »
Gemma O'Driscoll
Guest
Some interesting thoughts and I do take something from what you say. We are primarily however a trade association for independent funeral directors. We were formed to promote and protect the independent funeral director. So I’m not sure we are looking to be ‘different’, we have many benefits for our members and we are there to represent each one, each with their own value and ethos, because as funeral directors it is right that our businesses are individual and different, because the public are individual and different. I may be inside the organisation as you say, but I am first… Read more »
Cara Mair
Guest
Response from Cara re open letter to SAIF Firstly I just wanted to thank everyone for the volume and depth of debate and interest in the issues that I raised in my open letter regarding SAIF and my call for a much more open and inclusive approach to our customers and their dead. From what Gemma has said, this seems to be the case sometimes, but it’s unfortunate that we are not able to quantify this. I will take on what Gemma has said of course. However, the main point of my concern seems to have been overlooked. Surely if… Read more »
Robert Helliar-Moore
Guest
I struggle withe the statement ‘people often do not realise the choices they have around the ritual of care’ – is this really true or are they choosing not to be involved? If someone really wanted to know more or be involved, perhaps they would seek someone for whom this would be a possibility? Perhaps we are making too many assumptions about what people want – lets check with proper research before making such ‘bold’ statements. In addition ‘To be truly bold and take leadership in this area and create a legacy that other independent funeral directors can build upon.’… Read more »
public
Guest
Hi Gemma, thank you for replying again. Yes, I did see what you said in your original response about what you cover in the modules that you teach yourself for the IFD college. And I learned something myself about possibilities which I was not aware of as a customer twice over (both with FDs from the big conglomerates). The way I read your response was that this was what you covered when you taught rather than it was something which was built in to the IFD modules and the free training days which are mentioned for members of SAIF on… Read more »
Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest
That is what I tried to do. Whilst I cannot guarantee what other tutors say to their students I am an assessor as well as a tutor and I assess many of the other tutors students (so they do the course but I then get their work and with through it with them) and so I can be pretty sure that the other tutors are covering ge Work. My own revision and updates of the PowerPoints we use on 8 of the units are also the ones being used by all of the tutors. We also have 6 monthly updates… Read more »
Robert Helliar-Moore
Guest

A simple search for this provides the following

Code of Practice

https://saif.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Code-of-practice-updated-March-2018.pdf

public
Guest
Great – thank you. Particularly appreciated as I can’t find that link myself either by Googling “SAIF code of practice” nor putting Code of Practice in the search box on the SAIF website. It looks straightforward – once it’s been found that is! Can’t see that anyone on here is saying they don’t agree with that code are they? Simon Helliar-Moore says, “Progressive funeral directing isn’t all about do it yourself and cardboard coffins, it’s about transparency honesty and integrity all of which SAIF code of practice dictates it’s members value and practice.” Progressive means modern, forward looking, innovative etc… Read more »
Robert Helliar-Moore
Guest

A search ‘SAIF code of practice’ in google gave this – third result in list.

Public
Guest

Yes – thank you again. I saw something about associate members at some point in a list of search returns too yesterday. I have just done that search on google and it appears third but it is not the full code of practice for which you provided the link yesterday. It is a short version for associate rather than full members. Thanks again for finding the other one.

Public
Guest
What is the Guild? I can’t find the SAIF code of practice. Pre-paid funeral plans are a bit puzzling – surely Golden Charter and / or the Funeral Director make some money from fixing it up but I can’t see this easily on the Golden Charter website. Simon Hilliar-Moore – don’t think the open letter was criticising SAIF members – or even SAIF. Looked like an opportunity for some discussion. And why not? Learning organisations welcome that rather than sending back bland or negative responses or attacks as a form of defence. It would be good if Cara came back… Read more »
Fran Hall
Guest
The Guild was designed as a collective of like-minded people who are working to change funerals for the better – see the website here: https://goodfuneralguild.co.uk. It’s open to anyone who wants to join it. The small regular subscriptions paid by people who choose to join the Guild help fund the continuing existence of the Good Funeral Guide which is a not for profit social enterprise company (and almost sank without trace a few years back due to lack of funding). In response to your other points, the missing code of practice is indeed a mystery – maybe a SAIF member… Read more »
public
Guest
Asking a question at BCAG sounds like a good plan. Hazarding a guess, the response from the MoJ will be that this is something to be considered as part of the possible project on “A modern framework for disposal of the dead” included in the Law Commission’s 13th programme of law reform. I do hope someone posts that code of practice. It is maybe just somewhere a bit buried on the SAIF website. Had not realised that the GFG was funded in this way nor that it nearly sank. What a shame. I hope it can continue. I feel that… Read more »
Funeral director scotland
Guest
Funeral director scotland

I believe that the funeral directors in Scotland, NAfD and SAIF have been discussing levels of trading with the Scottish government. Seems that what happens in Scotland usually comes to rest of the UK soon after.

Funeral director scotland
Guest
Funeral director scotland

Should say training not trading

public
Guest

Those organisations are UK wide – doesn’t necessarily mean that regulation of funeral direction is definitely coming to England soon does it? What does regulation of funeral direction mean anyway – it’s a bunch of different tasks some of which might benefit from some scrutiny and others which it would be as silly regulating as trying to regulate wedding planners.

Simon Hlliar-Moore
Guest
As a member of the Guild and a recommended funeral director of the Good Funeral Guide I am somewhat disheartened at the Blatant disregard for those of us who belong to SAIF and have undertaken training with the IFD college. We must remember that traditional funeral practice is still very much in the hearts of most families who require the level of guidance and dignity given by the funeral director. We empower families to make decisions that we then carry out on their behalf but equally will offer our “helping hands” service if they wish to take a more hands… Read more »
Fran Hall
Guest
Just for clarity Simon, this blog belongs to The Good Funeral Guide, not the Guild. Publication of this blog post therefore carries no endorsement by the Guild, although of course, Guild members are invited to comment – as is anyone else reading it. The Good Funeral Guide, as clearly stated in the ‘About Us’ section of this website, is wholly independent of the funeral industry and is dedicated to supporting, empowering and representing the interests of dying and bereaved people living in the UK. We don’t represent the funeral industry, we stand outside it and observe, and, where we feel… Read more »
Simon Hlliar-Moore
Guest
Thank you for your clarity and stance of the Guild and Guide Fran, I was of the understanding that the Guild was devised to fund the work of the continuing existence of the Good Funeral Guide and a website is shared? I did not appreciate the absolute difference. I am pleased you embrace free speech to be posted here, although I feel the main aggression comes from supporters of this letter. The Good Funeral Guide is fast becoming the voice of those who demand radical change at the expense and criticism of decent and fair practicing funeral professionals who are… Read more »
public
Guest

Not sure I understand this post either. Why can’t people discuss the things that Cara suggested that could be included in SAIF / IFD college training? SAIF offers some free training to members according to the SAIF website. Who suggested ignoring the good practice of those who abide by the SAIF code of practice? I’m a member of the public and I’ve looked for it and can’t find it. Do you have a link please?

Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest
Sorry I can’t see your name anywhere, it feels rude not to address you by name 🙂 Did you read my original reply? It’s the second one so at the very bottom now… I am one of the executives and a past president of SAIF and also one of the IFD college tutors. My reply in essence said that we DO all of these things already. I think that is why some people are aggrieved by the letter and the suggestion that we do not; please see my original reply as I don’t want people to think I’m repeating myself,… Read more »
Simon H-M
Guest

Gemma, you have indeed but most eloquently my point! SAIF offer everything in the letter, may be Cara has not undergone or looked into the IFD training herself and didn’t realise this!
It is my error that I did not make myself clear in my posting and as to why I was indeed so aggrieved by this letter.
It does not represent me as a funeral director both of many years and one who believes himself and his company to be forward thinking.

Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest

Your last sentence is exactly what I tried to put across in my first reply Simon – I consider myself and company to be forward thinking; I consider my fellow executives to be the same and he SAIF Cara has described, and certainly the college training, is not one that I recognise.

Thank you for your response. It’s good to know I’m doing what I say 🙂

Tim Morris
Guest

Shouldn’t say’belong to ‘SAIF’.

public
Guest

Please could you explain the “belong” point?

Simon Hlliar-Moore
Guest

Belong meaning being a member of, is there a problem with the understanding of belonging to an organization?

public
Guest

Of course not! I was asking what Tim Morris meant. I don’t understand his post. If you do, please could you explain it. You refer to a code of practice. Where is it please?

Tim Morris
Guest

Context. ‘Belonging’ to an organisation gives the impression of blind obedience and inability to force change. A ‘member’ of a democratic organisation could potentially do these things. Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t SAIF born from free thinking Independents that wanted a different direction?

public
Guest
Thanks for explaining. Unfortunately, that comment will probably spark off some time-wasting debate over the use of the word “member” versus “belonging to” but I now understand the point you are making and see that the debate on here is farcical in that context. I am a member of the public and I don’t know all the many different organisations that funeral directors, local authorities and other funeral trade bodies can pay to join if they wish to. Some of these organisations are, effectively, part-funded by the taxpayer if they have local authority members. And they are all funded by… Read more »
Tim Morris
Guest

Problem here is that there are organisation with and organisation without a commercial interest. The latter, like the GFG, tend to speak out. From the former it seems that a minority of members that seek change speak out.

public
Guest
Well, to me that’s the puzzle. There’s an opportunity lost with this free blog to exchange ideas and info with the public, the profession etc. There’s some on this thread clearly can’t cope with the idea of discussing anyting – change or not. It’s an opportunity for free and great advertising really and they muck it up. In this thread there are some funeral directors, current or retired, who have come across really well to me who I’d consider using. And there’s some others where I’d run a mile. If this GFG blog was used to exchange more info in… Read more »
Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest

I agree with you about opening discussion. I’m not sure GFG is the place it would happen (it could, but there are many that could contribute effectively and valuably who would not come here to do so)

Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest

Thank you, I have tried to respond from SAIF’s perspective, but Cara has yet to join the conversation.

Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest
Hi Tim, yes it was and I’m proud to know many of them. SAIF Is a democratic organisation and any one of our members is able to, indeed encouraged, to stand for the executive or become involved in other roles. I have offered help and guidance to anyone who wishes to discuss this with me directly. Another reason for the disappointment that some have felt with this letter, I think, is that SAIF provides open forums at our meetings, to contact those (myself included) that represent the members and the ability to stand and effect change yourself if you feel… Read more »
Tim Morris
Guest

Perhaps SAIF and other organisations should push for inclusion in the All Parliamentary Group on Funerals. A wider discussion than at present would surely open some eyes.

Public
Guest

What’s that group? And the group that Fran said that the Good Funeral Guide is on – the BACG or BCAG – it seems to have different names with and without cremation in it in different places. Is SAIF on that?

Tim Morris
Guest

BCAG – Burial and Cremation Advisory Group convened by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is attended by a diverse range of organisations including both funeral directing organisations, charities, faith groups, burial and cremation organisations, heritage groups, Commonwealth War Grave Commission, the Good Funeral Guide, in fact a large list. Info can be found on the MoJ website.
https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/sample
Note that the name has changed to include cremation.

The All Parliamentary group is attended by MP’s from all parties and the NAFD, although I stand to be corrected.

Public
Guest

Thank you. I think the bcag name might be wrong on a gov website then. Is bcag business secret or can the public be party to what they discuss and feed in somehow? And similarly with the all-party parliamentary and bereavement group?

Fran Hall
Guest

Sadly it appears to be pretty secret, and even more sadly, no, apparently the public cannot be party to what they discuss and feed in somehow – see my reply to Tim’s comment above.

Tim Morris
Guest
BCAG minutes used to appear on the MoJ website until it was absorbed into the .gov.uk site. A request was made to publish minutes at the last meeting. For interest the group was formed following the 2000 Select Committee Inquiry into cemeteries to look for solutions to the burial space crisis. The crisis has worsened in the last 18 years with no government action so far. Incidentally, the Minister responsible at the time on reading the report stated that the case had been made that the reuse of old abandoned graves graves. Since that time limited reuse is lawful for… Read more »
Fran Hall
Guest
Trust me Tim, we have tried to get a foot in the door at the APPG on Funerals. Three times to be exact. This was the latest request for the GFG to be allowed to be included, in April 2016: Dear Mr Pawsey Further to last week’s publication of the Work and Pensions Committee Report on Support for the Bereaved, I write to enquire whether the APPG for Funerals and Bereavement invites bodies other than the National Association of Funeral Directors to have regular input into your discussions of funeral and bereavement issues? As the UK’s leading consumer advice resource… Read more »
Public
Guest

I think all APPG’s are maybe a bit mysterious? I looked it up ater TIm mentioned it – found a few things of interest which i need to look at again as the Sunday sun has frazzled my brain. And the BCAG? Are the minutes etc of that available to the public? Are there any bodies on it which represent the public?

Public
Guest

This is what I found – Will Smith at Brevia Consulting is a public enquiry point for the Funeral and Bereavement APPG. The NAFD pays Brevia Consulting to be the secretariat for the group and there was a benefit in kind of Christmas Dinner in 2017 for the NAFD. This is on page 507-508 of the register of APPGs which you can find online.

Tim Morris
Guest

Nice try Fran. Why am I not surprised at the response/non response.

Public
Guest

Fran, is it worth trying the advertised “public enquiry point” of Will Smith at Brevia Consulting? For the uninitiated member of the public, what is it that the NAFD will be wanting to tell the group of MPs about or that the group of MPs will be wanting to hear about but only from NAFD? Are these different funeral director associations very different in their aims?

James Blackburn
Guest

For information the details of the Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Funeral & Bereavement are available here
http://www.parliament.scot/msps/funerals-and-bereavement.aspx
The organisations represented are:-
Citizens Advice Scotland, Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland (CBCS), Golden Charter, Hospice UK, National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) , Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care (founder of the Good Life, Good Death, Good Grief alliance) , Scottish Pensioners’ Forum, Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (SANDS)

Fran Hall
Guest

Cheers James, very helpful indeed – see my reply to the comment from ‘public’ above.

Fran Hall
Guest
With grateful thanks to James Blackburn for the information about the organisations represented on the Scottish Cross Party Parliamentary Group on Funeral and Bereavement, here’s the e-mail sent to Mr Smith this afternoon. If and when I get a reply, I’ll write a new blog post and post both my message and the response. And in answer to your questions about the APPG, perhaps someone from the NAFD might join in and help us understand, as I honestly don’t know. Dear Mr Smith I am writing to enquire why the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Funerals and Bereavement is not open… Read more »
public
Guest

Thanks again for replies Jo and Gemma. Golden Charter – I still feel uncomfortable about the special offers and probationary membership deal where there is one year’s membership refund once the funeral director has sold one pre-paid funeral plan.

Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest
Unlike most Funeral Plan companies Golden Charter were set up by funeral directors. Unlike most funeral plan companies Golden Charter do not have shareholders that they need to make a profit for – it is precisely this reason many independent funeral directors, myself, Jo and Cara included, choose to offer their plans – because money is invested into the plans meaning more money for the funeral for families – I am not speaking as an expert on funeral plans, just as a funeral director who has chosen to offer these plans. As part of Golden charter ensuring quality they will… Read more »
public
Guest
Thanks Jo. This was what I read on the SAIF website about Golden Charter – sorry I misquoted below. “Special offer for March – June 2018 Golden Charter will reimburse a full year’s subscription fee once the funeral company has sold a GC funeral plan.” Is there a particular reason why SAIF advertises Golden Charter in this way and why Golden Charter offers to reimburse SAIF membership fees in this way? In the “Funeral Advice” bit of the SAIF website it would maybe be possible to provide more information on the various mysterious elements of funerals and the options that… Read more »
public
Guest
Sorry meant to say that the SAIF website and IFD website could provide some clear information for the public on these more creative options and flexibility that a lot of SAIF members now do seem to provide. The websites themselves do not look any different to me and they could have content which marks you out from the large corporates and which shows up in the sort of google searches that some bereaved people will be doing. With its “find a funeral director” search function the SAIF website is clearly intended to be public facing as well as member facing.
Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest
Thank you, that is valuable feedback that I shall take forward to discuss with the rest of the SAIF executive. It is designed to be public facing as well and we do have information on what to do after a death and how to find a funeral director but it is always worth looking at the content to see if it can be improved in any way. Because SAIF members are all so unique I think we have kept details on ‘options’ to a minimum as that is something we have thought best suited to individuals websites, but we will… Read more »
public
Guest
Thanks for answering my question about regulation Jo – could you point me to something official about it happening in England soon? I was aware of Scotland but not England. I found your reply very informative as a member of the public – I have never been offered the opportunity for family etc to get involved in painting the coffin or helping prepare the body e.g. doing hair etc. Have also never had embalming explained nor been told whether or not it was being done. I have looked on the SAIF website and the IFD training website and seen no… Read more »
Jo - Funeral Director
Guest
Jo - Funeral Director
Hi SAIF is our trade association but doesn’t dictate in how we carry out funerals so I wouldn’t expect to find that kind of information on their website. NAFD is the other trade association and I believe their web site is similar to SAIF however you should be able to find SAIF members and go to their websites. That way you find a funeral director in your area that feels comfortable to you and your family. With regards to regulations I believe England/Wales is still in the pipe line ‘Brexit’ has got in the way at the moment !The fact… Read more »
Gemma O’Driscoll
Guest
Hello, I also read Cara’s letter to be directed primarily at the people who run SAIF and the IFD college (although I’m not sure she understood they are different entities) and that is why I responded (see below), as one of the Executives of SAIF and a past-President to hopefully dispel some of the myths. I agree with Jo that the SAIF website is not going to list those options as independent businesses are all different – we are indeed independent and SAIF does not dictate how we run our businesses other than us adhering to the code of practice… Read more »
Jo - Funeral Director
Guest
Jo - Funeral Director
Having read Cara’s letter I feel I need to give my opinion. I am 2nd a generation funeral director and have worked and managed my family business for the past 25 years. We are members of SAIF and myself and all staff have made the choice to use the IFD training opportunities. Firstly I found the letter a little misleading. To those who may not be in the funeral profession SAIF is the society of allied and independent funeral directors, a trade association for the independent. As proud members of SAIF I see this membership as a bench mark of… Read more »
funeral director
Guest

Doesn’t this just highlight everything that is wrong with the funeral profession and the trade associations? Cara offers an opinion, Lucy agrees, Gemma valiantly, honestly and thoughtfully puts the other side of the argument and opens up the discussion, and then Chris Parker shows the true colours with a rude and arrogant response. All the good done by Gemma quashed instantly. Shame on you Chris Parker.

public
Guest
Oh my Ms Parker. That was a scary reply. I am a member of the public. I read the GFG from time to time these days and wish I had known about it before the last two funerals which I helped arrange. Am I right that independent funeral directors pay to be members of SAIF, if they so choose, and also that they pay for the training you are responsible for, if they so choose, and take time away from fee earning to take part in your courses? And these costs are indirectly passed on to the public or reduce… Read more »
Chris Parker
Guest
Dear Ms. Mair, I have been directed to your open letter which you have posted onto this site and feel obliged to respond via the same medium. First of all, I am very disappointed that a fellow professional should take to this medium to raise concerns. Surely the better way would have been to address those concerns to the people in question first, so that they might offer you an explanation. Your action smacks a little of attention grabbing for a personal agenda and I don’t believe there is any place for that behaviour in our profession. That said, I… Read more »
Michael Jarvis
Guest

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Liz maxted
Guest
Well said. We have all gone through the college and have all gained a huge amount from the excellent training you offer. Does this woman even know what she’s talking about. Doesn’t even know the ifdcollege is separate to SAIF. She should wake up and realise that she’s no different to any of us. We all offer our families to get involved if they want to, but most are happy to leave it to us. Sound like she forces her own views on her clients which is the worst thing any FD can do. Oh and whoever Michael Jarvis is… Read more »
Public
Guest
liz Maxted, you say that she should wake up and realise that “she is mo different from the rest of us.” Who is the “us” to whom you refer? Are you meaning all independent funeral directors? Your reply is unpleasant as was the reply from Ms Parker. You both have employed the technique of using a personal attack rather than a reply to the points raised. I don’t know who you are but I am a member of the public and as a potential customer of an independent funeral director I am underwhelmed by the response of a governor of… Read more »
Michael Jarvis
Guest
I certainly respect anyone’s entitlement to respond to criticism. The problems with Christine Parker’s response, as I saw it, were twofold: First, the extent of the litany suggested that a nerve had been touched, hence my quote from Shakespeare which neatly describes that situation. Second, the unnecessary tenor of the response – brusque would be my best attempt at a polite depiction. As to whoever I am (what a graceless piece of rudeness), I’m not an overly sensitive hot-house plant, but I found Ms Parker’s response uncomfortable reading. I don’t see myself as a member of a pontificating elite, just… Read more »
Gemma O'Driscoll
Guest
Dear Cara As a member of the SAIF Executive, one of the past presidents, and considering myself to be a progressive and modern funeral director I would like to respond. I am a 3rd generation funeral director but I began my business back in 2013 with many of the same intentions as you; to be forward-thinking, to embrace choice and technology and to encourage families to be involved in the funeral process. I consider myself to be a facilitator of the funeral that a family wish to construct; one that will enable them to say goodbye in the way that… Read more »
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Lucy
Guest

Yes!!!!

Cara, all of the points you have made is exactly all of the reason why I chose not to become a member of SAIF.
I wanted people like me to respresent my company rather than to feel excluded because I wasn’t like them.

If SAIF ever listen and decide to change, sign me up.