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University of Bath

Death, dying and devolution

An IPR research sabbatical project on death, dying and devolution.

  • A substantial number of people die or are impacted by death every year; despite this, policy responses are limited, slow or non-existent, lacking in joined up thinking, hampered by limited data collection, and poorly planned.

  • Such policy neglect reflects the sequestration of death from personal, public and political life, resulting in a knowledge gap on how we plan for death, how we care for those who are dying, and how we overcome resource challenges associated with dying and bodily disposal.

  • As a country we are therefore poorly prepared for death and its social and economic consequences.

  • As national and regional devolution of policy and services gathers pace, variance in policy responses will become increasingly obvious, and intensify existing problems in nations and regions that fail to ensure that their services are robust, sustainable and financially sound.

  • The aim of this project was to raise the profile of death, dying and bereavement as a significant policy issue and make cases for change in the policy areas affected.

This project reviewed policy areas associated with death, dying and bereavement within the context of devolution. It focussed on the national and regional delegation of power, resources and authority across the UK and the implications of this for those who are dying, dead, or bereaved – as well as those tasked with organising and running the services that support these groups of people.

The project, through the publication of an IPR Policy Brief, aimed to set the policy scene and agenda for the immediate future, addressing and demonstrating both where there are risks but also the potential for better policy and services associated with death.

IPR Policy Brief Authors

Paul Allcock is immediate past President of National Society for Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) and following his year in office has continued as the Public Relations Chairman as well as becoming the SAIF Government Liaison Officer. He has been a funeral director since 1983. Paul started his funeral education within a family business in Norwich, progressing to being Manager of the company by the age of 24. Following the sale of the business in 1999 he opened his own family business at the age of 33 with his wife and father. Now in 2017 there are 9 members of the Allcock family actively involved in the business which has grown to be the largest independent funeral business in the Norwich area. During this time Paul has been Chairman of the National Association of Funeral Directors’ Norfolk Branch on no less than 3 occasions and was the Chairman of the NAFD East Anglia Region. Outside of his daily work, Paul also volunteered for the bereavement support charity CRUSE for whom he was Chairman of the Norwich and Norfolk branch for many years.

James Cooper is Public Affairs and Policy Manager at Together for Short Lives. As part of the charity’s External Relations team, James works to influence politicians, officials and policy makers across the UK to implement Together for Short Lives’ public policy priorities. James’ background is in public affairs and policy within the third sector; prior to his current role at Together for Short Lives, he was Political Relations Manager at the National Osteoporosis Society. He has also worked for Groundwork UK and Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. Together for Short Lives is the UK wide charity which, together with their members, speaks out for children who are expected to have short lives. They are here to help these children and their families have as fulfilling lives as possible and the very best care at the end of life.

Brendan Day is the Technical Coordinator for the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities (FBCA). He has 35 years’ local authority experience at 5 councils, delivering a variety of services to the bereaved. Prior to his retirement in March 2017 Brendan was a Service Manager for Registration and Business Excellence at Sandwell MBC, managing Bereavement Services, Registration Services, Coroners Services for Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall local authorities as well as providing commercial support to Governance, Legal and Procurement services.

In consultation with Defra, Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities and the Cremation Society Brendan led on the development of CAMEO, the only national mercury abatement scheme, of which he is currently a director.
He is a former member of the Executive Committee of the FBCA and is a Fellow of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management and was previously a director of the organisation. He has written many articles for the trade journals of both organisations and presented at their conferences on a range of topics. He has seen burial and cremation from the ‘other side’, having been involved in the creation and running of a funeral directing company, of which he was a director. In addition, he is also a director and founder of the Green Cremation Network, a new project which he is developing.

Julie Dunk is Deputy Chief Executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM) and will become Chief Executive on the retirement of the current incumbent. Following an early career in archaeology and having run several cemeteries and crematoria, Julie has worked with the ICCM as Technical Services and Events Manager since 2008. During this time she provided management cover and support to several authorities around the UK, as well as delivering training, developing policies, organizing Conferences and Seminars and providing technical support and guidance to those working in bereavement services. She also developed guidance and a training course on Public Health Act Funerals, and has trained over 300 people since the inception of the course.

Professor Malcolm Johnson is Visiting Professor in Gerontology and End of Life Care in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath. He is also Emeritus Professor of Health and Social Policy at the University of Bristol. He is a former Secretary of the British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Group and of the British Society of Gerontology, and founding editor of the international journal Ageing and Society. Most recently he acted as an expert contributor to Channel 4’s two-part documentary ‘Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds’ (transmitted August 2017).

Heather Kennedy is the Fair Funerals campaigns manager. She has managed the campaign since it began in 2014, during which time public concern and political pressure around funeral poverty has boomed. The campaign is closely informed by the work of its sister project Down to Earth, which directly supports people on low incomes struggling with funeral costs.

Debbie Kerslake is the Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care. She leads Cruse’s advocacy on behalf of bereaved people, most recently around proposed changes to bereavement benefits, statutory bereavement leave and consultation on changes to death certification. In partnership with ACAS, Cruse developed guidance for managing bereavement in the workplace which was launched in September 2014.

Debbie is a member of the Ministry of Justice Burial and Cremation Advisory Group, the Department of Health Medical Examiner Implementation Delivery Board and the National Bereavement Alliance Steering Group. She is also an invited participant at the All Party Parliamentary Group for Funerals and Bereavement. She was joint Chair of the Department of Health funded Gold Standard Bereavement Care Project which launched revised Bereavement Care Standards in April 2014. She is on the Steering Group of Dying Matters.


Mandie Lavin is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Funeral Directors. She is a qualified barrister and was previously Chief Executive Officer of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, with significant experience of working in professional bodies having also run the Bar Standards Board and acted as Director of Regulation at the General Optical Council.

Mandie has an invaluable insight into the introduction of regulation and has been working closely with Scottish Government ministers over the future of the profession, including the introduction of regulation.

Richard Meade is Head of Policy and Public Affairs Scotland for Marie Curie. This includes representing the work of the charity to the Scottish Parliament and Government as well as campaigning to ensure that people living with a terminal illness and their families get the best possible care and the support they need wherever they are.

He has previously worked for Barnardo’s Scotland, Children 1st, Fleishman-Hillard, Help the Aged, the NHS and the Home Office. He has a BA (Hons) in History and Politics from Stirling University and an MSc in Policy Studies from Edinburgh University.

Tim Morris is Chief Executive of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. He has 35 years’ experience of the management and operation of cemeteries and crematoria in both the public and private sectors. He is a Fellow and Life member of the Institute and holds the ICCM Diploma.

He has overall responsibility for the Institute’s accredited education and training programmes and the provision of best practice guidance and legal and technical advice to cemetery and crematorium practitioners and authorities.

Tim represents the ICCM on the Ministry of Justice’ Burial and Cremation Advisory Group. He also represented the Institute on the Infant Cremation Commission established by the Scottish Government.

Helen Morrissey is a personal finance specialist who joined Royal London in May 2017. Prior to this she was a journalist specialising in retirement issues for 13 years.

Alison Penny is Coordinator of the Childhood Bereavement Network, the national membership organisation for those supporting bereaved children and their families. Alison has coordinated a group concerned about changes to bereavement benefits, provided written and oral briefings on the reforms to parliamentarians and officials, and gave evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

Dr Wendy Walker is a Reader in Acute and Critical Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, having joined as a Senior Research Fellow in 2011. She is based in the Institute of Health, and deputy lead for a research group: Loss, bereavement and end of life care. Wendy formerly practiced as a Registered Nurse, and specialised in the field of adult intensive care. This practice-based experience led to a growing interest in evidence-informed care and support for families who were suddenly bereaved. Her research includes inquiries that focus on dying, death and bereavement in the context of a life-threatening illness or event, and is typically hospital-based. Deceased organ and tissue donation features prominently in acute and critical care, and has always been an integral and inspirational part of her clinical and academic career.

Stewart Wilson is the Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland. He has worked in the field of counselling since 1990. Initially he trained and worked as a volunteer counsellor with a Scottish agency which provided support to parents of children newly diagnosed with significant physical or learning disabilities. Stewart was appointed to the post of Executive Director (CEO) of COSCA, the professional body for counselling and psychotherapy in Scotland in 1998, a post he held for 4 years. In 2002, he became the Chief Executive of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland (CBCS), where he is responsible for overall management of a team of around 350 active volunteers working throughout Scotland, providing a range of types of support to over 8,000 bereaved people in Scotland each year.

Dr Kate Woodthorpe is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Bath. She has worked in this field for over 15 years. In 2016 she acted as Special Advisor to the Work and Pensions’ Select Committee Special Inquiry into Bereavement Benefits and has just finished a secondment with the Department for Work and Pensions supporting improvements to the Funeral Expenses Payment. Dr Woodthorpe has conducted research and published widely on funeral costs and practice, families at the end of life, the deathcare sector workforce, cemetery usage and researching death, dying and bereavement. She co-edits the inter-disciplinary journal Mortality.