From Starbeck to Parliament: Funeral director's 285 mile walk to fight against funeral poverty

Jonathan Robinson.
Jonathan Robinson.

Walking 285 miles from Starbeck to the Houses of Parliament, funeral director Jonathan Robinson is taking his fight against funeral poverty nationwide in May.

Organising meetings with dozens of MPs in towns and cities along his route, and finishing at Downing Street, Jonathan will lobby the Government to increase the amount of money available to families for funerals - he said not being able to afford a funeral can leave anyone feeling inadequate or embarrassed, and can make a bereavement even more traumatic.

The latest figures from the national Fair Funerals campaign show that the average cost of a cremation is £3,596, and £4,561 for a burial. Funeral payments from the Department of Work and Pensions have not risen from £700 in the last 15 years, despite the average amount borrowed for a funeral now standing at £1,680.

Jonathan, of Joseph C Roberts Funeral Directors, will walk 20 miles a day over two weeks, walking in front of a hearse for the majority of the journey. He is adding extra miles onto his journey to meet with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Work and Pensions, Kit Malthouse.

Jonathan said the costs of utilities, vehicle excise duty, vehicle insurance, timber prices and unleaded petrol have increased, along with the minimum wage, but the funeral fund has not increased in proportion to these costs.

He said: “When a death occurs, it is often unexpected, as are the costs. People often find themselves in a state of extreme distress, initially as they have to deal with the loss of a loved, the grieving, and the emotional impact, and then the worry of finding the money to pay for a funeral.

“Some people have to go to JustGiving pages to raise money for a family member’s funeral, they shouldn’t have to do that. Depression is an area that can be compounded by the cost of funerals. My main concern is doing the best I possibly can for the deceased, and giving them as dignified a journey as we can, from the moment they die to when they are cremated.

"We have an obligation to steer families through a very difficult time, and this doesn’t help at all.”