By Sarah Jones
In Celebration of our First Five Years
It is hard to believe that it is five years since we started out on our mission to create a new kind of service that would change people’s experiences of arranging a funeral. Now here we are with 4 sites across Yorkshire, 3 national awards under our belts and 10 fabulous people in our team.
What we set out to do
We never underestimated the challenges involved in entering a well-established industry. Coming from a health and social care background, those of us who were there at the start of the Full Circle journey recognised that there was a need for somewhere that applies therapeutic principles to funeral care and understands that people’s needs have evolved significantly over the last 100 years. We understood that the process of saying goodbye to someone is an essential part of the grieving process and can influence how that process plays out in the future. Essentially, we became funeral directors because we believe that good funeral care can have a positive long term impact on wellbeing and grief.
What happened next
Everything about our service is about wellbeing, from the interiors to the way we look after our own team. People responded really well to our approach and we quickly recognised that there was a huge unmet need. This inspired us to open up 3 more services across Yorkshire far sooner than anticipated.
We find that much of our time is spent helping people to understand what is possible and then creating time and space to support them as they work out what will be best for them. We talk to them about what is important to the person who has died and their family and friends. These ideas form the basis of the choices that are made about the funeral and how that person will be remembered in the future.
Our funeral directors have come to us from all walks of life, with one of our newest recruits switching from a teaching career. They all bring a desire to have a positive impact on the people they support and their local community.
Our role in the community
Over the past 5 years we have supported no fewer than 25 charities and taken part in 79 community events. From the outset we recognised the importance of our role as a local service and point of contact, not just for people who needed to arrange a funeral but for all those involved in caring for bereaved people and those approaching the end of their lives.
The part we play in our local networks gained new significance during Covid-19 when we, and others we worked closely with to provide bereavement support, suddenly found ourselves in a unique position. There is a significant amount of admin to contend with when someone dies and the pandemic meant that the places where people would usually go to complete these tasks had closed. Everything had migrated online and people were genuinely struggling with both their grief and the need to navigate new digital systems that had been put in place. We found ourselves helping in ways we wouldn’t normally help, completing admin and giving urgent advice on new procedures and opening hours for crematoria. Our team worked their socks off to support people in whatever way they could, to make their lives easier during these strange and troubling times.
During this period, we carried out research with some of the people we work closely with such as celebrants, care homes and local florists. We discovered that everyone had been doing more and doing things differently. We used this research to create a guide for those providing services in our local community on how best to support people during the pandemic.
Anniversaries are an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come, what we have learnt and how we can take that knowledge forward. We have been overwhelmed by the positive response from the hundreds of people we have supported and we are looking forward to helping more people in the future. If this means growing our team and our number of sites, it will only be done in a way that allows us to maintain the very special environment we have created at Full Circle Funerals.
From our own experience, we understand the positive impact our work has on the people we support. We are also committed to better understanding what helps people after a bereavement by working with local universities in York and Bradford to lead ground-breaking research into bereavement and funeral care. By taking this methodical and collaborative approach with academics, we hope to influence change on a wider scale.
For now, however, it is our birthday month and we are celebrating in lots of exciting ways. We will soon have some exciting news to share about a new charity collaboration and we are preparing to launch the second edition of Funerals Your Way, our bestselling funeral self-help book. There is so much to look forward to and so much still to do.
We feel filled with immense gratitude for the people who have supported and encouraged us and the amazing and inspiring people we work alongside daily. More than anything, we commit to continue to do the very best that we possibly can for the people in our care.