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Cemetery extends service times after complaints

EXTENDED HOURS: Handsworth Cemetery in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM’S AFRICAN Caribbean community now has more time to bury their loved ones after a 60-minute time limit has been extended as restrictions on graveside ceremonies were causing great distress.

Birmingham City Council is now to allow the bereaved an extra 15 minutes of time at Handsworth Cemetery as they say their final farewells to loved ones being buried there. Families had been asking for 90 minutes at the grave, but a compromise has been reached after community activist Desmond Jaddoo stepped in as he felt there was a lack of proper consultation with local people, leading to ill-feeling.

Jaddoo, who earlier this year was appointed as a minister at the Assemblies of the First Born Church in Lozells, said the restriction had distressed grieving relatives who felt they had to watch the clock as they dressed a grave.

Tradition

He said:

“This has impacted on the African and Caribbean community as we celebrate the life of our dearly departed and it’s our tradition that during this time we pray and sing hymns, while filling and florally dressing the grave ourselves. It is difficult to get all this done in an hour.

“To the best of my knowledge, this time limit was set without any form of consultation or equality impact assessment. I feel the council failed to show due diligence by not looking at what the implications such time limits would have for our community.”

Andrea Haines, operations manager for bereavement services at Birmingham City Council, said:

“Over the past few years, burial services at our cemeteries have been extended from 45 to 60 minutes to accommodate the changing needs of the bereaved against an increasing demand.

“Since last September, when Pastor Desmond Jaddoo contacted the city council about extending services at Handsworth Cemetery to 90 minutes, we have worked together to reach a compromise.

“As a result, services are now 75 minutes. Families may also continue to dress the grave at their leisure, but must leave before the cemetery closes.”

Confirming the new times in an email to Pastor Jaddoo, the bereavement services team added:

“There is, however, an expectation that everything possible is done by the funeral director and ministers to ensure that the cortege arrives at the cemetery on time and that the service commences at the booked time.”

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