Volunteer group Hero East London held 1,000 free funerals for people who could not afford to bury their loved ones

A small group of volunteers in east London have helped organize a thousand free funerals for members of their community, providing vital support to neighbors during the coronavirus pandemic who could not afford to bury their loved ones relatives. Supporting Humanity, a mental health and bereavement charity, has no plans to stop its inspiring work.

The group, run entirely by volunteers, was created in 2020 in the midst of a pandemic. He has since become a pillar of positivity for East London and its local neighborhoods. They now cover several boroughs in East and North East London.

The list of achievements of volunteer heroes is not short. Some of their recent successes include saving the government over £1million in funeral costs and teaching almost a hundred young Muslim women traditional burial practices.

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The group trained 90 women in the traditional Muslim burial practice of Guhsl

The group also runs outings for the elderly, cooking classes for children and covers all the costs of over a thousand funerals for the underprivileged in East London. The team of entirely unpaid volunteers sat down with MyLondon to discuss how their work was helping their fellow Londoners.

Working from their base in Ilford, Supporting Humanity has spread to the dozens of boroughs surrounding them. One of their latest ventures was to help members of the local community during a funeral care crisis.

The group helped members of the community who could not afford the funerals of their loved ones, covering all costs and organizing more than a thousand memorial services. Supporting Humanity is totally inclusive and helps people from all walks of life.

The group has also worked to train Muslim women in the traditional practice of Ghusl, an endeavor of which they are particularly proud. Supporting Humanity communications manager Tahreem Noor, who also has a full-time job, said: “Ghusl is a form of ablution, or bathing, which involves cleansing a body of impurities. Usually, people of the same sex wash and wrap Muslims who unfortunately pass away.

“Usually this is done by older people, but during the pandemic many have isolated themselves or sadly left us. With the death toll rising, we didn’t have enough people to wash and wrap the bodies – a ritual that all Muslims (practicing or not) undergo when they pass away. We have started a workshop to educate young people on how to do this to try to address the lack of qualified people to carry out this sacred tradition.

“Besides that. We covered over a thousand funeral expenses. We paid for the burial, the cremation and other costs such as the casket and the flowers. We have saved the government millions of pounds by taking on this responsibility, also saving thousands for those who have lost family members.

Supporting Humanity is a mental health-based team and they said encouraging young people to work with deceased members of the community, often their own families, generally benefits the volunteers’ mental health. Tahreem explained that when a person dies, washing the deceased gives closure to the volunteer and helps them both overcome and control their emotions, learning more about their death.

Thanks to the hundreds of newly trained volunteers, the group has also set up a listening service open every day to help residents with mental health problems. Tahreem continued and said, “We have a volunteer-run emotional support line which also has counselors on board so any necessary calls can be routed to other services.



Now children will learn Ramadan cooking and techniques to interact more with their elders, including Zachary, (right), who has joined the cooking class

“We also run monthly bereavement support circles and special needs services as well as mental health fundraisers. We cover all costs for free, helped by generous donors within the community. Often, although it is not encouraged, the families we accompany at the funeral offer us a donation to say thank you.

Now the team is focusing on children during the month of Ramadan. They teach kids the skills to cook and host Ramadan iftar and also take seniors on day trips for free. Recently they went to Camber Sands, Cambridge and the Natural History Museum with a group of older community members. Again, totally free.

They have a whole annual calendar of events that they want to bring to their community and are definitely heroes of the East Side of London. Visit their website here.

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