The fight to allow France's poor a dignified burial


Funeral costs in France can often be beyond the means of the least well-off and their surviving relatives. In one region an association has teamed up with an insurance company to offer low-cost cover to ensure that the poor can organise a dignified final ceremony. In other areas local associations are naming and shaming local councils in a bid to force them to carry out their legal obligations to provide decent burial arrangements for the most disadvantaged. Mathilde Goanec reports.

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When Farid Guise lost his mother in March this year he and his partner Sandrine Larger were reluctant to ask for help and at first tried to pay for the funeral costs themselves. They used up the last of Farid's mother's pension and took 300 euros from their own savings, but were still unable to find the 1,900 euros demanded by the undertakers. Eventually Sandrine Larger came across a woman called Huguette Boissonnat, who works as a volunteer at the anti-poverty non-profit organisation ATD-Quart monde (ATD Fourth World in English) in Nancy in north-east France. “Her health was suffering, the affair was gnawing away at her,” recalls Huguette Boissonnat.