A CHILD Funeral Fund is operational in Northern Ireland from today, providing a one-off lump sum payment to help families with the cost of a funeral on the death of a child under 18, or in the event of a stillbirth after 24 weeks.
Initially announced in March by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, the payment of £3,056 is available to those bereaved from today.
The fund will not be means-tested, allowing everyone to access it regardless of their financial status.
"I am committed to making real change by supporting people when they need it most and there can be no more difficult circumstances than the loss of a child," Minister Hargey said today.
“The Child Funeral Fund will help lessen financial stress for bereaved families during the most devastating of times.
“On bringing forward this scheme, I asked my officials to ensure the application process is straightforward so that no additional burden or stress is caused to bereaved families.
The establishment of the fund has been welcomes by SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan, who has paid tribute to campaigners who have been working to establish support for bereaved parents.
"I know campaigners have been working hard to have this provision introduced in the North for a number of years and I commend them for their efforts, this will make a real difference to many families in the most difficult of circumstances," he said.
“I cannot begin to imagine the pain that someone goes through upon losing a child and the last thing they should have to worry about is financial pressures while they are dealing with their grief. Funerals are very expensive and many families simply won’t have that kind of money available to them, this fund will ensure that no family is placed in the position of struggling to pay for their child’s funeral after becoming bereaved.
“Going forward we need to ensure that families are aware that this help and support is available to them and that the application process is as straightforward as possible so that it is easily accessible by all.”