It is with sadness that we hear of the death of Fiona Singleton, our former colleague.
Fiona was the manager of our Down to Earth project from 2014 to 2018 and was really instrumental in growing that project from what it was then – a small, local service supporting the bereaved to obtain affordable and meaningful funerals – to the powerhouse it has become – a UK wide national helpline and a strong independent voice advocating for the needs of bereaved people on low incomes.
It was Fiona who first built up strong relationships within the DWP to enable us to work with them on their administration of the Social Fund.
It was Fiona who cemented solid partnerships with all sorts of organisations, the first and longest lasting being the one with the wonderful hospice at St Josephs, just up the road from us. She walked their corridors frequently and it was in fact where she passed away.
It was Fiona too, who warmly supported our new colleagues when we set up a Fair Funerals campaign and worked alongside them to ensure their influencing work was informed by the lived experience of bereaved people.
Yet the thing I most remember Fiona for was that she never lost sight of the fact that every single statistic for Down to Earth represented a loss and that each person we helped was experiencing one of their darkest times. I remember running an event with Fiona where we were promoting the service and hearing her talk with such heartfelt pride about the project, and with such compassion about the people we supported, that I wasn’t surprised at the size of the queue to talk to her afterwards.
And actually, that is the thing I remember most about Fiona – she was superb at connecting with people, at building rapport and common ground. Despite the seriousness and the solemnity of her work, outside of that she liked nothing more than having a blooming good laugh at the world.
She had a very big heart. We’re grateful that she opened it to us and to her Down to Earth colleagues and beneficiaries. In Down to Earth her legacy lives on.