What has SAIF done for me in 2023? Quite a lot, actually.

20/12/2023   //   No Comments

It’s that time of year when many of us reflect on the past 12 months. Have we done everything we set out to do? What are the learnings? And how have we helped others? The team at SAIF Business Centre has been giving thought to these questions and we’re feeling very positive about both what has been achieved and our work on behalf of the UK’s independent funeral directors. In fact, there are five points of pride…

Industry leading advocacy and representation

This is a huge area of work yet it often goes unnoticed. Our team of volunteer experts give hundreds of hours of their precious time each year to help various governments and government agencies understand YOUR important work. 

In 2023, we have worked with the Financial Conduct Authority, the Human Tissue Authority, the Competition and Markets Authority, the UK Government in Westminster, the Scottish Government, Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice to name but a few. 

Time spent is not just in meetings with officials but preparing and responding before and after we sit down with members of the various governments.

Officials now regularly turn to SAIF for authoritative advice on the funeral profession, thanks to the brilliant consultative efforts of people like Joe Murren (Scottish Government) and Paul Allcock (UK Government); and Ken Gilmore and Andrew McClure (Northern Ireland). In Wales, we’ve had a sterling team in the form of Gemma O’Driscoll, Craig Perfect, James Tovey and Ahmed Alsisi.  

Advocacy and representation this year has also involved attending formal events such as crematorium openings and funeral directors’ premises openings and upgrades, all led by our brilliant President Mark Horton, with support from Ross Hickton and Paul Bowley.

Developing best practice through accredited education and qualifications 

The Independent Funeral Directors’ College has successfully moved to the national qualification and assessment group – AIM. Also, the College received a ‘highly commended award’, for which we congratulate the Governors and team. 

Alongside this, SAIF’s popular Education Days went national across the UK’s four jurisdictions in 2022/23, to make the events more accessible to members locally.

There has also been a steady stream of webinars featuring guest speakers. This year, topics have included how to support vulnerable customers, direct cremation and digital marketing. And we’ve hosted the Government team from the Department for Work and Pensions in a webinar that attracted more than 200 members.

We’ve also formed four new sub-committees, including the Mortuary Committee, which is working to ensure SAIF members are equipped and up to speed for the outcomes of the Fuller Inquiry. We’ve also created the PR and Media Committee to address the independent voice in the marketplace. Additionally there is a new SAIF Educate committee for courses and CPD. This is designed to meet the wider management and leadership needs of modern businesses. SAIF’s Well-being Committee has been busy working on resources for your staff teams in an anxious age. And last but not least our Standards Committee has been recognised as an Alternative Dispute Resolution body by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Be in no doubt that SAIF will continue building on this work – to keep our members informed and educated, which in turn results in better customer service and staff retention.

Strength in numbers: strategic collaboration to support independent funeral directors

Independent funeral directors have faced unprecedented challenges in recent years. But whether it was the pandemic or the rise in unattended funerals and new regulations, SAIF’s fantastic members have consistently risen to the occasion.

One way that SAIF has supported independent funeral businesses through these challenges is via partnerships with organisations across the profession.

The Diamond Partnership, delivered with Westerleigh Group, has enabled independent funeral directors to compete with national direct cremation providers. 

On top of this, we’ve worked with faith leaders to deliver the Direct Cremation Toolkit. This is enabling members to go out into their communities and talk about the importance of funeral services. 

We’ve also partnered with Surrey County Council to join Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards Primary Authority Scheme. It means independent funeral directors and supplier members of SAIF have access, via a single point of contact, to assured and tailored advice on how to meet regulations. 

Helping good causes

Independent funeral directors are at the heart of their communities, working away quietly for good local causes. SAIF also believes in the spirit of helping others and each year our President’s Charity raises thousands of pounds for a chosen organisation.

In 2023, SAIF President Mark Horton is supporting Honeypot, the national young carers charity. Honeypot provides countryside respite breaks and a wrap-around service to young carers with responsibilities beyond their years. Its aim is to help these amazing youngsters make happy memories and build brighter futures.

Before Mark took the reins, Immediate Past President Jo Parker raised funds for Papyrus Prevention of Young Suicide. Thanks to donations from SAIF members the final total hit an amazing £32,000.

A growing family

It has also been a great year for welcoming new funeral directors and associate members. 

Whether you’re new to SAIF or have been with us since our founding in 1989, it’s great to have you on board.

Ever expanding business support for our members

Running a business is no mean feat and we take our hats off to SAIF members everywhere for their contribution to society and the economy. 

And in this fast moving world, it’s vital that companies are given the support they need to make the most of modern online tools. 

That’s why SAIF Digital exists. It’s a unique programme that equips independent funeral directors with the knowledge and skills needed to harness the power of the virtual world to promote their businesses to prospective clients.

We’re also acutely aware of the challenging nature of funeral directing. It’s for that reason that we will continue to provide members with access to a confidential helpline to discuss stress and anxiety through SAIF Support. 

As we can see, it’s been an incredibly busy year at SAIF. We’re grateful to the tireless team at SAIF Business Centre for delivering all of the above and more. We’re here to help your business thrive and it’s something we’ll remain committed to in 2024.

But for now, from all at SAIF, we wish you a happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. 

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