Council statement on funeral arrangements during coronavirus

23/04/2020, PR-9387

Wakefield city centre

Wakefield Council is committed to national efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

 

We understand that dealing with the loss of a loved one is extremely challenging and we are continuing to support bereaved families across the district at this very difficult time.

 

For this reason we have carefully considered how we can help to keep people safe, whilst allowing families to mourn a loved one.

 

We have temporarily changed our way of working so that we can ensure that everyone can stay safe – mourners, funeral staff, and council staff.

 

Our staff are demonstrating their full commitment to the delivery of funeral services, under the most challenging and difficult conditions that we have ever experienced.

 

Sadly, as the number of funerals has increased, we’ve needed to carefully consider and reassess how we can provide more services to more families, whilst ensuring that everyone involved is kept safe.

 

We have consulted with and discussed our approach to services with funeral directors in our district, who have all been supportive.


To meet the increased demand for funerals, we have created additional capacity for burials and cremations.


We continue to hold burial services five days a week and cremation services six days a week, to support families as they mourn a loved-one.


Our team have adjusted their working hours, to ensure we can hold more funerals whilst ensuring all the administrative and practical aspects involved in managing funeral services are in place.


Under our guidance a maximum of ten mourners can attend burial services across the district and cremation services at Pontefract and Wakefield Crematoria.


In mid-April we took the difficult decision to reduce the number of mourners that could attend burials from 20 to 10, because of concerns that in some cases many more mourners were in attendance. This was making it increasingly difficult to maintain a two metre social distancing between people at the graveside. We were concerned about the risks for everyone in attendance as this measure, recommended by the Government, is there to reduce the risk of the virus from spreading. Having fewer mourners present is effective in maintaining safety for all.

 

Our approach is to offer 20 minute funeral services, which has always been an option, but under these unprecedented circumstances is the current length of time for all services.

 

This means that between services our staff can thoroughly clean the chapel, including chairs and other surfaces which could potentially harbour the virus– as part of our commitment to keep people safe.

 

We ask families for their patience, as it’s not possible to provide a traditional service at this time.

 

We have received messages from bereaved families who have told us they have appreciated what we are doing at this time to support them. We appreciate their kind words.

 

We've led the way in supporting mourners during this difficult time, even when other LAs have put tighter restrictions in place.

 

As a Council we are incredibly proud of our staff, their dedication and commitment to doing their utmost to support bereaved families in these extremely challenging circumstances. We are proud to be here, serving our district and our residents.

 

For more information on Council bereavement services, including costs, please visit www.wakefield.gov.uk/bereavement