Thursday, 13 October 2011

Monday 19th September 11

I got up early in order to take my eldest into The Stables but in the end he went on a bus with Gill.  So I had a quiet day, feeling a bit low... not just the unnecessary early start but also a cold which got steadily more annoying, with successive sneezes and an increasingly drippy nose.  The downside of being very social!

I did a variety of admin stuff, phone calls and the like, plus relaxing with 'Eat Static Radio' on Last FM, which raised my spirits considerably.

I prepared several racks of sliced apples for drying, and at 3 put our lad's bike onto my trailer and cycled down to The Stables, where he'd fortunately had a good day.

At 4.30pm a chap from Everest came round to check our front and back doors, fitted in 2008 I think, and I had a very amusing conversation with him... nice chap!

I really wasn't feeling like having tea but Gill made something irresistible and I had a small bowl full.

I was looking forward to the evening's meeting of the Co-operative Members Group, which tonight was at Co-op FuneralCare on Cromwell Road in Bishophill. I got there at 6.55 and over a dozen other people turned up.

I took notes but didn't get around to writing these up until October, and I don't like to publish subsequent blog posts until I'm done for that day (hence a gap in publishing posts).

So, my write up of the Co-op Members visit to the Co-operative FuneralCare premises.  We were welcomed by Philip Taylor, the manager, and we were offered coffee and biscuits.  He told us that the Co-op is one of three funeral providers in York, all of whom have a more or less equal share in the market.  This means that the Co-op arranges just over 900 funerals a year in York, although this is dropping by about 2.5% a year as the current demographics change and people are increasingly living longer.

Funerals are an expensive business, the average one costs £2900. That's partly because the York Crematorium is one of the most expensive in the country, costing £665 plus £147 for the necessary documentation. York has mercury abatement technology too, which has added to the cost.  Some people opt to pay for their funeral before they die, and whatever is charged then is the full cost of the funeral, even if the person dies many years later and the cost has gone up.  So buying your funeral whilst you're young is quite a sensible thing to do, from the point of view of the client... but not the funeral provider!  Some funerals are paid for in installments beforehand, and others are paid for by insurance, after the death has occurred.

There's quite a bit of interest in 'green funerals', and most people think that this equates to a cardboard or willow coffin. These caskets are 'greener' than solid hardwood, but the biggest part of the carbon footprint of funerals isn't in the materials used for the casket.  And the figures for different sorts of funerals are interesting. In York, 87% are currently opting for cremations, the rest are burials, very few in churchyards and more in ordinary cemeteries.  The interest in 'green burial' or 'woodland burial'  is low, only about 10 a year, and only once has someone asked for a burial with just a shroud, which is one of the 'greenest' ways to be buried.  However, about 40 people a year are requesting bamboo, cardboard or willow coffins.

The Co-op has invested in Resomation, the 'alkaline hydrolysis' disposal method where the body is dissolved in chemicals and flushed into the sewer, and the bones ground up to make the 'ash' which is collected in an urn for burial or sprinkling.... Philip had never heard of Promession, which surprised me, and I hope the Co-op gets behind this technology.  It is lobbying for the legislation to change to allow these sorts of technology to be allowed in this country.

For more about my interest in this subject, please visit or contact me direct and I'll be happy to explain anything.

It was a fascinating visit... we did have a brief look at some of the rooms in the building, ones where coffins are put and family members or friends can say goodbye to their loved one, but for me, hearing a funeral director telling us about his job was the most interesting thing.  Thank you Philip and the Co-operative Members group for arranging the visit.

No comments: