Monday, 29 January 2018

Grief and debt

Every year, about 5000 children die in the UK.
Some are stillborn and some die shortly after birth from complications. Some are born with, or develop, life-limiting illnesses. Some die from tragic accidents.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that some 10,000 parents each year have to face the unimaginable grief of losing a child.
Nobody expects to bury their own child. No-one plans or sets money aside for this. Therefore, when having to cope with the worst possible experience they will ever have to face, bereaved parents have the added worry of finding funds for a funeral they never wanted nor expected.
Some 14 months ago, Carolyn Harris, the MP for Swansea West, spoke eloquently in Parliament about the loss of her young son Martin. It was from this that the idea of a Children’s Bereavement Fund, to help parents in those tragic circumstances, was first conceived.
I am embarrassed, but pleased, that the Welsh Government listened and acted. It realised that, for a modest amount of money, it could make a real difference to bereaved families in their hour of need. It established a Children’s Funeral Fund meaning that, across Wales, with the support of funeral directors and many local authorities and others, parents could bury their children without the added worry about how they could afford it.
Many times, over the last year, MPs from all parties have pressed the government to show compassion  and to work with others to follow the Welsh model. There have been many discussions with Ministers and hopes have been raised.
Unfortunately, the government has failed to act and two budgets have passed without any positive announcement about the relatively small sum of money required to bring this scheme into being.
Today, I – together with MPs from all parties – have written to the Prime Minister to ask her, once again, to take the initiative to help bereaved parents across the country. We want to ensure that parents, already struggling to cope with the cruellest fate life has dealt them, do not have to face the added burden of indebtedness.
If you support us, please write to the Prime Minister and tell her so.