Pendle Council bosses praise funeral staff during 'enormously stressful' pandemic

Council bosses in Pendle have spoken of the increased dangers and stresses of conducting funerals during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Caring for people at the toughest time in their lives is something which comes naturally to our Bereavement Services Team,” said Pendle Council’s leader, Coun. Mohammed Iqbal.

The experienced team takes care of six cemeteries across Pendle, conducting burials and organising memorials so that people can give their loved ones a respectful send-off and choose a final resting place for them.

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“The coronavirus pandemic has brought an even bigger challenge to people mourning their loved ones – and to our team. I want to thank them for the calm and consistent way they’ve responded.

Rob Creswell (front right) Mark Naughton (back right) Sean Nutter (front left) and Rob Rothwell (back left) at Colne Cemetery

“They’ve continued to be compassionate and caring at what is an enormously stressful time – both because it’s a time of loss for people and due to the threat of the coronavirus which affects us all.

“There is an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 where families and communities come together following the death of a loved one, from any cause,” he warned.

Pendle Council’s Chief Executive Dean Langton added: “Rituals and gatherings are important, but we must follow the government’s guidance to reduce the spread of infection.

“And they are advising people to make sure that burials take place sensitively and safely,” he said.

The team has the right personal protective equipment and disinfects all equipment after use.

Rob Careswell, who has led the council’s Bereavement Services Team for over seven years, said: “We are helping people say goodbye to their loved ones whilst following new government rules to keep mourners and staff safe. We know social distancing saves lives.

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“Bereaved families must also stick to the guidance on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering.

“Close friends can come to a funeral if there are few family members able to attend – for example because they are in lockdown at a distance,” he stated.

“Any mourner who is showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms - a new continuous cough or a high temperature - should not attend the funeral as they pose a risk to others,” he stressed.

“We have updated Pendle Council’s web pages www.pendle.gov.uk/bereavement with the latest government rules on funerals.

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“The guidance which must be followed includes what to do if a funeral is scheduled when members of a household are self-isolating for 14 days because of coronavirus symptoms.

“We really feel for people who are having to say goodbye in these circumstances. Our team is there for people and we know that these essential rules may seem hard and unnatural.

“But unless people are part of the same household, they cannot have direct face-to-face contact or give people a hug. By following these rules we can all help to stop the spread of infection and protect people.

“We are urging people to have a celebration of their loved one’s life at a later date, when the government says it’s safe to meet and to comfort friends and family about their loss.

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“We’re finding that mourners are taking photos and getting video coverage of ceremonies so that those who can’t attend still feel connected and can offer condolences at a safe distance,” he added.

Rob Careswell is also asking friends or family who are organising a burial for a loved one to check the regulations being followed by individual funeral directors, too.

“Funeral directors may have additional restrictions, such as a lower number of people who are allowed to attend a burial ceremony,” he said.