This July, I’ll be joining a decidedly international group of bloggers convened by Dan Hughes of All That Comes With It to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall in support of the Joseph Salmon Trust , a small charity that supports parents who have lost a child in the Huddersfield and Mirfield area of the North of England. In the UK, a shameful number of families still live below the poverty line. Subsistence without state help is an impossibility if you’re caught in that sort of trap and a loving, dignified response to the death of a child is simply impossible. Even something as basic as a headstone is subject to state taxes of 15%. For example, a 2009 article in the Independent placed costs of the average funeral at £7,098.
For disadvantaged families, this is one burden too many at the worst moment in the life of any parent.
The Joseph Salmon Trust was set up after the Salmon family suffered their own loss.
Just over a year after Joseph died, Neil (Joseph’s father) began to think about ways in which other families in a similar situation might be helped. It came to light that, despite there being a number of counselling and research charities related to losing a child, there was nothing specifically to deal with the expenses that ‘saying goodbye’ to the child can incur.
But why, with horrors in the world such as the disasters in Haiti and Chile, should one support arguably less “essential’ services such as helping to pay for funeral expenses? I think we should do both. I try to contribute through the major charities such as Save The Children to the work of those who try to improve the lives of children globally. But I also believe that we need to improve lives closer to home too. If we don’t engage with the inequalities and injustices in our own society, how can we properly empathise and engage with those in the wider world? In ancient societies and so-called ‘primitive’ societies today, funeral rites were a time of community support and grieving. Families did not have to deal with such terrible moments alone. In 21st century Britain, funerals have become another expensive commodity deemed ‘inessential’.
I also had an even more visceral response when I first heard about the Trust last year. I read Dan’s post about the Salmon family, cried and decided that this was something I wanted to provide a little help to.
I’ve set up a Just Giving page for my part walk (hopefully I’ve got it right) and I’d ask you to contribute. This is an anonymous blog to some extent so do check in with Dan or just give straight to the Trust if you prefer (but please let me know – Dan’s given us hefty targets to meet!).
Thanks for reading so far. I’ll be plugging this now and again all being well, I’ll be devoted an entire post to my sore feet in July.