I know you’re very busy running the country right now, but I wonder if you have some time to help. I’m writing to you to talk about the issues bereaved families across the country face every single day.
A recent Freedom of Information request has revealed that, in the UK, bereaved children don’t officially exist. You see, as things currently stand, when a child’s parent dies no one asks how many children they had – how many people would love, miss and need them every day. And with no official figures recorded, how can you possibly know who needs help?
If a record of dependent children was given on information when registering a parent’s death, it would empower local authorities to recognise bereavement as a public health issue.
When it comes to education, there is currently no statutory bereavement training for British educators or caregivers and the vast majority of British teachers have no training in bereavement whatsoever.
All schools should have a clear bereavement policy and a designated bereavement contact. Bereavement and grief should also feature on the national curriculum.
Businesses have no clear guidelines on how to deal with bereavement, meaning the nature of leave and the support provided to employees is down to the discretion of the employer alone.
Every organisation (including schools) should have a clear bereavement policy.
Right now, there is no cross-Government bereavement strategy. Responsibility for policies impacting on bereaved people is presently spread across a number of different Government departments including the Department of Health, the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Department for Education. There is also no identified Government lead for bereavement strategy or support.
Now is the time to introduce a cross-Government national bereavement strategy, establishing a framework led by the Government and championed by a relevant minister to ensure the coordination of various policies across Government.
Following the cuts to bereavement benefits in April 2017, many families are now much worse off, too. Figures suggest a disparity of up to £17,000 based on a median length of claim of five to six years under the previous system. And unmarried couples are still completely unprotected. Under the new policy, the provision of payments for only eighteen months means that parents will not be supported for long enough to meet their children’s emerging grief, placing them under additional stress.
Now is the time to revisit how we best support bereaved families. And now is the time to remove the continued uncertainty. A new consultation into how bereaved families should best be supported by the Government is needed.
So where do we go from here, how can you help? Because that’s your job, isn’t it? Bereaved families need your ongoing help and support. That’s why I would encourage you to support the Life Matters Task Force for Bereaved Families. Working together we can build a more compassionate society with equally defined frameworks to support families following a death, just as we do following a birth.
Thanks for taking them time to read this. For more information please view and share the Life Matters Task Force for Bereaved Families film and report and recommendations.
Please click below to view the film:
You can also read the full report here:
Thank you for your support.