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How do you write a eulogy for a man you've never met? Havering Council know

PUBLISHED: 17:11 04 December 2015 | UPDATED: 17:11 04 December 2015

Public health funerals are organised by the council

Public health funerals are organised by the council

PA/Press Association Images

Ensuring a good send-off for all is the aim of a little heard of department at Havering Council.

A team of officers have organised funerals for 16 residents over the past five years – the youngest of which was a baby girl under a year old.

Officially known as “public health funerals” the services are organised by the council in the absence of friends and family.

A spokesman said the services are organised according to the person’s wishes.

A Havering resident, originally from Penang in Malaysia, was one of those 16.

His family in Malaysia spoke to a burial officer about what his wishes would have been and later visited the borough to meet the officer, who took them to see where the man had been living.

A spokesman said: “The service is very carefully tailored to what that person would have wanted.

“It depends on the person – if they were Roman Catholic, then we organise a Roman Catholic funeral.

“A eulogy will be written by the officer from what they learn about a person from their neighbours and friends and items of interest they find in that person’s home.

“Music for the service will be chosen from what their favourite songs were.”

The officers encourage friends, neighbours and colleagues to attend the funeral and if no one is available, then a burial officer will always attend.

Those receiving a public health funeral will ultimately be buried in an unmarked grave or cremated in South Essex Crematorium, in Upminster.

Of the 16 people to have received such burials in the past five years – at a cost to the authority of £11,322.95, the oldest was a 93-year-old man.

Before a public health funeral is organised the authority will try to contact a family member to organise and pay for the funeral.

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