21st Jan, 2022

Call for Coventry Council to overturn 'cruel rule' not to let family members carry coffins into funerals

Tristan Harris 20th Oct, 2020 Updated: 20th Oct, 2020

CALLS have been made for Coventry City Council to overturn a ban on family members being pallbearers at funerals.

The rule has been introduced in a bid to prevent the spread of Coronavirus but campaigning councillor Tim Mayer and a resident whose dad’s funeral is being held next week feel the risk can be easily managed and the policy is unnecessary.

Coun Mayer said: “The pandemic has hurt many families, many people have lost loved ones.

“Coventry City Council should change their policy of stopping family members acting as pallbearers at a family funeral.

“When a loved one is lost the council policy is now actively denying them their final thank you and the dignity of carrying a family members coffin.”

He said he understood the reasoning – to protect funeral staff members – but he argued by checking people’s temperatures beforehand and with the use of anti-bacterial wipes, masks and gloves being worn, any risk could be minimised.

And he said, with those measures in place, there would arguably be less risk than there was from shopping trolleys and baskets which were being used by more people on a daily basis, rather than a ‘one off’.

The policy is based on advice – not direction – from Government which means Coventry’s decision was made at a local level and was not compulsory.

Plenty of other councils, including Wolverhampton, Oldham, Preston, Leeds, Wiltshire and Barnet are among those which allow families to carry coffins into funerals.

Coun Mayer made his calls for the U-turn at this afternoon’s Coventry City Council meeting and was told by Coun Patricia Hetherton, the cabinet member for city services, that the issue would be looked into.

But any review of the policy could come too late for Laura Gardner whose dad’s funeral is on Tuesday, October 27, at Canley Crematorium.

Echoing Coun Mayer’s sentiments she said: “We want to honour our dad and the family wants to be involved in his final journey.

“If the funeral directors carry him down, they will have been in the same car or to have him pushed in on a trolley will just seem so cold and disrespectful.

“The celebrant has also been to our home to discuss the proceedings beforehand.

“And six people could also meet up at a restaurant but cannot be around a coffin with masks on.

“It seems such an odd ruling when simple things can be done to ensure it is safe.

“A lot of families will be affected by this and, like us, they will want to pay their last respects and do one more thing for their lost loved one before they say goodbye.”

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