SAIF Belfast education sessions

Belfast meeting

In a first for Northern Ireland, SAIF held the Funeral Education Sessions at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. The event was open to all members of the profession in Northern Ireland and even attracted attendance from members in Wales and Scotland.

The event, on 14 May, brought together speakers addressing regulation, digital marketing and embalming but the key focus of the day was the mental health of the profession.

SAIF National President Jo Parker opened the session with a passionate speech on her nominated charity Papyrus, a youth suicide prevention organisation.

SAIF Chief Executive Terry Tennens led the morning session with an update on the progress of regulation of the funeral profession in the UK. Terry shared SAIF’s position on co-regulation and detailed the journey ahead.

BIE Past-President Barbara Fowley was joined by BIE Northern Ireland Secretary Liam Boyle for an enlightening embalming Q&A, that covered reconstruction, issues with repatriation and technique.

A key point from the session was Barbara’s perception of the role of the embalmer: “I see the role of the funeral director being the voice of the family, the embalmer as the voice of the deceased.”

The late morning sessions were dominated by the focus on mental health with Catherine Betley of Professional Help discussing SAIFSupport, Angela Maguire of De Exeter House addressing addiction in the workplace and Shane Kenny on psychological safety in the workplace.

The afternoon began with a brief presentation on humanist funerals, followed by a lively and informative session on funeral plan regulation hosted by Declan Maguire. Funeral plan provider representatives Karen Trickett from Golden Charter and Helen Guyan from Ecclesiastical Planning Services worked through a series of questions that covered the security of funeral plans and a view of the funeral plan market in the years to come.

Professor Heather Conway of Queen’s University, Belfast, delivered an energetic and engaging presentation – The Legal Right to Organise a Funeral – before the sessions were brought to a close by Declan Maguire and Karen Trickett introducing SAIF Digital, a groundbreaking Digital Marketing programme specifically tailored for SAIF funeral directors. Attendees were encouraged to visit SAIF Digital online to register for a free digital audit and take advantage of the specialist support services on offer.

The day concluded with a presentation of CPD certificates, followed by dinner and drinks in the famous Europa Hotel Piano Bar.

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