Social enterprise funeral director opens

L to r ian kirk john halliday paul mccolganweb

Caledonian Cremation staff Ian Kirk, John Halliday and Paul McColgan

The UK's first not-for-profit funeral service aims to tackle growing funeral poverty in Scotland

Susan Smith's photo

6th February 2018 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Caledonia Cremation, the UK’s first social enterprise funeral director, opened its doors in Scotland this week, aiming to tackle funeral poverty.

Offering simple, direct cremations for one all-inclusive price of £995, the company provides a flexible, affordable option for bereaved families across Scotland.

The average cost of a cremation in Scotland in 2017 was £3,146 and the average cost of a direct cremation was £1,680. Every year this cost is increasing, putting added strain on many grieving families and pushing one in seven people into debt to cover the costs.

A direct cremation is a simple funeral with no service at the crematorium. This option suits many families, who would rather have the flexibility to arrange a memorial or celebration somewhere personal to them and the deceased. The family or loved ones can decide if they would like the ashes to be scattered, or returned to them.

Caledonia Cremation is wholly owned by the Glasgow-based anti-poverty charity Community Renewal Trust. Any profits will be reinvested into projects that will help those in Scotland’s poorest communities who are struggling to cope with bereavement.

Paul McColgan, founder of Caledonia Cremation, said: “Borrowing thousands of pounds to cover a funeral is now common practice in Scotland. Our vision is for a Scotland where everyone can afford a dignified funeral, personal to their needs.

“Sadly, I have first-hand experience of the strain that this can place on a family, when my brother in law died suddenly in his twenties. Like many young families there was no provision for such an unexpected event but fortunately other family members were able to support the funeral costs. It highlighted to me the terrible financial burden arranging a funeral can place on many families, particularly younger families, and that something needed to be done.”

Caledonia Cremation aims to keep cost low and will offer the same dignified service to every single person.

Alastair Davis, chief executive of Social Investment Scotland, explained why it is supporting the venture.

“Social enterprises in Scotland have a fantastic track record of creating innovative solutions to some of society’s greatest challenges, and the issue of funeral poverty is one of the most pressing issues many households are facing,” said Davis.

“Social Investment Scotland has been delighted to be able to provide financial support to this new social enterprise to support its launch costs, support that is absolutely in line with our mission to create a real, measurable and sustainable impact upon people’s lives.”

This new funeral social enterprise is part financed by the European Social Fund and Scottish Government.

Social Investment Scotland and the Asda Community Capital Fund combined have provided a £100,000 loan to kick start the project.

Caledonia Cremation is able to arrange funerals for those living on mainland Scotland, however at present the service does not extend to the Scottish Islands.

The social enterprise is also encouarging pay forward donations for people who wish to cover the cost for a funeral for someone whose family can't afford it.

Anyone needing help arranging a funeral can call the team for advice on 03000 113 311 or can visit www.caledoniacremation.org.uk.

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