The Fair Funerals campaign is the first dedicated campaign in our charity’s long history.
We’ve always seen ourselves as a grassroots, hands-on, eminently practical organisation – supporting people impacted by poverty. So what changed?
Our funeral poverty expertise
In 2010 we found ourselves in an unusual position. We were setting up Down to Earth, a new project to support people on low incomes to access an affordable and meaningful funeral. It was – and still is – unique, giving us a distinctive window of knowledge in this new, niche area of “funeral poverty”.
The media and by policy makers began to ask us to comment on the cost of funerals. We were told that our knowledge wasn’t available elsewhere. And crucially, we realised that as well as developing an understanding of the problem, we were developing a very clear understanding of the solution.
A new direction for QSA
Setting up a campaign was a risk for us. We had no track record in campaigning and we knew that advocating for change requires both tactics and tenacity. It was also a stretch for us and we realised that different skills are required to campaign effectively. After a few years of pushing this issue from within Down to Earth, we decided, in 2013, to set up a dedicated campaign. In January 2014, Fair Funerals began.
What sat behind Fair Funerals at first was just one part time staff member, so we knew that, in order to get more bang for our buck, we needed to build alliances and common cause with others. This made practical sense, as well as aligning with our values. We knew we wanted to run a campaign that was positive and collaborative.
Focusing our campaign
We chose our three pronged strategy carefully – with two elements pushing at those who have real power to change the current system; government and the funeral industry, and the third element addressing a different target altogether. We knew that Fair Funerals would always be a modest little campaign, delivered on very few resources, by a fairly small charity. Our ambition nevertheless has always been to amplify its messages and spread the word to the general public. We wanted them to understand that funeral poverty is a terrible situation – but that there were actions that can be taken to address it.
It’s still work in progress – but work which, even back in 2015, was making waves, as the Guardian pointed out in naming us their charity campaign of the month.