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Public health funerals – FAQs

What is a public health funeral?

A public health funeral is the cremation or burial of someone who has died, usually alone, is unclaimed and often without funds to provide for their own funeral. 

What is the council’s policy on public health funerals?

Bracknell Forest Council’s public health funeral policy can be found on our public health funeral guide.

Why does the council have this public health funeral policy in place?

The council complies with national legislation on public health funerals.

When someone passes away and there are no funeral arrangements in place, the council has a duty under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to make arrangements for the cremation or burial of the body.

What is the process for this?

If a person dies without a known next of kin, the council normally acts on written instructions received from the local coroner's office. Where the coroner has notified us of a death and, as far as they are aware, there is no one able to make funeral arrangements, we will search the deceased person’s home for further information. We will try to find a Will or any documents that show the existence of any relatives, religious beliefs or funeral preferences.

We make every effort to try to contact any known next of kin asking if they are able to take on the responsibilities for arranging a funeral for the deceased. If we are unable to trace any family or if the identified next of kin is unable to make the funeral arrangements, the council has a legal duty to arrange and pay for the deceased’s cremation or burial.

The council arranges for the deceased to be taken by private ambulance to Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium. The council does not organise any service.

Can friends or family arrange a service?

If friends or family of the deceased would like a short service, they should contact the staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium to find out the cost and make the necessary arrangements.

How can friends and family pay their respects if they do not pay for a service?

A time will be allocated within the crematorium chapel for family and friends to pay their respects. The cremation or burial will normally be held first thing in the morning and unless a service has been arranged the coffin will be laid in the Chapel for 10 minutes to allow anyone to attend and pay their respects. When a burial is arranged the coffin will be taken straight to grave and again a period of normally not less than 10 minutes allowed for those wishing to pay their respects to do so.

Anyone with an interest in attending may contact the staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium for further information.

There is no charge for this.

What happens to the ashes?

The cremated remains of the deceased will normally be scattered in the Gardens of Remembrance unless other specific instructions are found amongst the deceased possessions or in a will. The remains will only be held at the Crematorium awaiting scattering for a period of 3 months after the date of cremation. Any costs associated with specific instructions must be met through the deceased's estate or by family members or friends.

Where the council has a request from a family member or anyone who can evidence a relationship then the ashes will be released into their care. Ashes must be collected from the crematorium. It is not possible to arrange for remains to be couriered without full payment in advance.

Can anyone attend when the ashes are scattered?

If friends of the deceased would like to attend and say a few words during the scattering, then this can be arranged by them if they contact the staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium. There is no charge for this.

What if the next of kin cannot afford the cost?

Where the next of kin accepts responsibility but cannot afford the cost and is in receipt of benefit, they may be able to apply for financial assistance from the Social Fund.

What about other options?

There are ways to help reduce costs, for example, the main cost of a funeral is the cost of using an undertaker. Our staff at Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium are always willing to discuss options and we would urge anyone finding themselves in this situation to get in contact with the crematorium.

Dealing with such situations is not easy and never straight forward so we therefore consider the facts of each case before making decisions.

Contact information

Easthampstead Park Cemetery and Crematorium

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