Full Circle Funerals Partners, Altrincham

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Funeral Directors Category: North West England

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  • Funeral Director/s:

    Jez Fixter, who co-owns the business with his wife Sara.  They are the first independent partner of the successful Yorkshire based company Full Circle Funerals.

    When we met them, both Jez and Sara spoke of how immensely privileged they feel to care for people from their community and to help families achieve the funeral that they want, and their commitment and dedication to their work was palpable.

    Sara previously worked as a solicitor before spending some time raising the couple’s young daughters.  She is currently training to qualify as a psychotherapist and is a trained and active Cruse Bereavement Volunteer. Sara feels strongly that her experience as a Cruse volunteer informs and enhances the way she supports families and members of the community in her role as a funeral director. Former special constable Jez had had a previous career in HR and recruitment, and he had reached a point in his career where he felt he needed to change direction and find employment that was more fulfilling. When he began exploring options, he came across the newly launched Full Circle Funerals Partners opportunity, and the ethos and message of the company that was dedicated to gently changing the funeral industry in a positive way totally resonated with him.

     

    Specific Gravity:

    Echoing the ethos of Full Circle Funerals, the main company, this unique partner company mirrors the flexible, person-centred and personalised approach to funerals. Jez and Sara believe in supporting each client as much or as little as they require, balancing the needs of the person who has died, their family and friends and the wider community, and offering guidance and suggestions to help each client achieve the funeral they want.

    Their commitment is to support every bereaved individual and they work to understand each client’s needs so that they can work out how best to help, recognising that every person may want to be supported in different ways. They invite wider conversations about how to involve or include other family members, including children, and are encouraging and reassuring about the prospect of children attending a funeral if clients feel that this is appropriate.

    Immensely likeable and thoughtful, both Sara and Jez are very aware of wellbeing, both their own, their colleagues and their clients, and they understand the importance of supervision as they experience the multitude of different scenarios brought to them by clients – the support from the larger funeral network that they are part of provides them with learning and best practice as well as regular confidential discussions to ensure that they stay well balanced and able to give clients their best service.

     

    What’s important?

    Encouraging clients to make choices that are right for them by providing as much support as is required. Jez and Sara appreciate that everyone is different and that some people may not want to be overwhelmed with choices, while others may be keen to explore everything that is possible. Their priority is to create a safe space, both physically and emotionally, where people can be involved as much or as little as they feel comfortable with, and to tailor conversations and decision making to each client’s needs.

    Their approach is always to put the client first, and to take the lead from them while ensuring that they provide all the essential information that is needed. A funeral arrangement takes the form of a gentle conversation exploring the client’s wishes, and then responding accordingly with advice, guidance and ideas as required, always with warmth and kindness and an awareness that the resulting funeral will be a co-production between everyone involved; the client, their family and friends, the celebrant that they choose and Jez and Sara as the invisible string binding everyone together.

    Communication is incredibly important to them, and they see their role as being part of the team who are all working together to make the family’s wishes happen. This subtle skill is something that all the best funeral directors have, an ability to be totally supportive while discretely empowering of each client, and for Sara and Jez they have the advantage of being a couple who work together and whose lives are absolutely dedicated to being the best they can possibly be.

    Opening their doors to the community and going out to let people know about how it is possible to have a different approach to funeral directing is a big part of the work Jez and Sara do.  They both enjoy the opportunity to be more immersed in their community.  Bereavement signposting and support is a large part of the work that Jez and Sara carry out.   They were delighted to win the award, Best Bereavement Support at the Good Funeral Awards, 2023, particularly as the judges took into account testimonies from people they have supported and signposted.   Jez and Sara signpost not only to the families they support, but also people they meet in other settings, to bereavement support. This may be after a funeral but may also be at other times in the person’s  grief journey.  Sara took the opportunity recently to train with national bereavement charity Cruse, and now volunteers as a Cruse Bereavement Volunteer, speaking to clients referred via Cruse to help them to understand their grief.

    The couple organised a pop-up exhibition of work created in response to grief and loss, displayed at venues across Altrincham.  Sara and Jez hoped the events would inspire others to use creativity to help them following a loss or bereavement. The exhibitions were not restricted to established artists, the aim being to encourage people from all walks of life to share their work, even if they have never created anything artistic before.  On the back of Art After Loss, Sara and Jez have set up a creative bereavement support group in conjunction with Inch Arts and a local Creative and Therapeutic Arts Facilitator.  The free group operates weekly and is open to all, offering anyone in the community who has been bereaved, the opportunity to explore how art can support wellbeing after loss.

    At the request of a local charity that supports unpaid carers, Full Circle Funerals Partners have produced a leaflet of the local bereavement resources that are available from local services, online, in person, group, one on one, over the phone – to provide people with variety and choice. They have also connected to a local counselling centres and individuals, and proactively signpost people to services depending on their needs.  Sara and Jez run free training sessions on Wellbeing After Bereavement and Bereavement at Work at local colleges, care and healthcare settings – these sessions explore how people can support themselves and others following a bereavement.

    Sara and Jez regularly attend groups, organisations to learn about the services that are on offer. They regularly attend a Death Café in Frodsham and have attended a Professional Visit at Maggie’s Centre in Didsbury to learn about how the team supports people affected by cancer.

    Sara and Jez also regularly take part in local fairs and events and throughout the academic year, they have sponsored a number of community events including Hale Barns Carnival and Carols at King’s Court.  They take part in careers events throughout the academic year at The Dean Trust Broadoak School in Partington as well as Trafford College.  They fostered a corgi in the Trooping the Corgis event to raise money for community arts projects, raised funds for the bereavement charity Once Upon a Smile by Jez abseiling down the Trafford Palazzo, joined in community litter picks and generally get completely involved with the community around them.

     

    What’s different?

    This is the first franchise of a progressive, modern funeral business. Sarah Jones, the inspirational founder of Full Circle Funerals, first conceived of the idea of spreading the ethos further by offering partnerships several years ago, and at the time we were unsure how the calibre and quality of the Full Circle ethos could be maintained with a partnership model.

    It’s clear that Sarah had way more vision than we did, as this is the perfect example of how, with the right people involved, a new business can have an extraordinary jump start by sharing and adopting tried and tested values that have been established in a parent company. The constant support and encouragement that Jez and Sara receive from the main company is evident, and they have developed a collaborative approach where they share ideas and suggestions back and forth. There is always someone at the end of the phone to advise if necessary, and the training offered is ongoing and comprehensive. They are able to share resources and innovations that are developed in Yorkshire, and have access to all of the excellent offerings such as the Full Circle Funeral podcasts and bereavement support groups.

    It was a pleasure to see how seamlessly the values and essence of Full Circle Funerals has been absorbed into the new Partner, and how they imbue and inform the work that Jez and Sara are doing.

     

    The premises:

    Jez and Sara’s beautiful premises are in the market town of Altrincham, South Manchester.  The premises contain a light airy reception area, a spacious room where you can discuss arrangements as well as a visiting room, lit with natural light from the large window.  This is a space that you can make your own by bringing in items personal to you or to the person who has died.  If you would like to visit and spend time with the person who has died, this can be done in either an open or closed coffin arrangement. If preferred, they can be laid in a bed with pillows and covers – it’s entirely up to you, and this will be gently explored during the funeral arrangement meeting.

    Adjacent to the visiting room is the spotless mortuary where Jez and Sara care for the people they are looking after. There is space for families to help to give personal care to their relative, to wash and dress them and prepare them for their funeral – this is an option open to anyone who chooses Full Circle Funerals Partners as their funeral director. Routinely, Sara and Jez carry out minimal intervention, simply carrying out any hygiene washing that may be necessary, raising the person’s head by placing a headblock beneath it, gently closing their eyes using fingertips, and placing a towel under their chin to prevent their jaw from dropping. They apply a protective moisturizing cream to every person’s face and repeat this daily – all of this is discussed with clients so that families are aware of how the person who has died is being cared for – wherever possible in advance of Jez and Sara bringing the person into their care.

    In between arrival at Ashley Road and the date of the funeral, people are kept in refrigerated conditions in one of the large fridges in the mortuary, where they are checked upon daily by either Jez or Sara. The mortuary can be seen by any visitors who wants to know where their relative will be cared for, just ask either Sara or Jez and they will show you and explain exactly how they care for people.

    Returning to the rest of the premises, upstairs is a showroom with a number of different coffins and ashes containers on display where you can see and touch different kinds of coffins before deciding which one to choose. Not every client is interested in this, but it is available for anyone who wants to have a closer look before making their mind up. When we were shown around, the showroom contained a willow coffin, a bamboo one, a LifeArt coffin and a cardboard coffin, plus two of the more traditional coffin styles and a number of different ashes caskets and urns.

    Downstairs, and accessed through the mortuary, a door leads to the garage where the people-carrier Jez and Sara use to bring people into their care is parked. On days when a funeral is leaving, the hearse reverses into the garage enabling a discrete transfer of the coffin out of public view.

     

    Services:

    • Your first call will be answered by Sara or Jez
    • Home visits – absolutely, or they will meet you wherever you would like them to.
    • Family participation – as much as you want, you are positively encouraged to participate if you feel able in every aspect of personal care for your person, and you will be supported to do whatever feels right for you.
    • Same sex person to wash and dress? Yes, both Sara and Jez carry out the personal care for the people they look after so if you would prefer one or the other just say so.
    • Embalming – if decided that it is appropriate by the family, perhaps if there is to be an extended period between the death and the funeral with multiple visits planned, then embalming can be arranged. The process is always explained using gentle and sensitive language, and the client will sign an embalming consent form before embalming is carried out.
    • Ethnic specialism – Sara and Jez serve all ethnic and cultural groups
    • Home arranged funerals – happy to assist families who wish to organise a funeral by themselves by offering advice and minimal practical support. They are also happy to support people who want the full funeral director service but prefer to keep their person at home.
    • Local celebrants – over the time since they opened in January 2022, Jez and Sara have taken time to get to know and observe local celebrants. They have details for a large number of celebrants locally but will generally suggest two or three who they feel will be most appropriate for a particular family, they feel that this is the right balance for clients between choice and control. They will always discuss between them who to suggest to a client, to make sure they pick the right shortlist.
    • Website Part of the excellent main Full Circle Funeral website, endorsing the values that they share.
    • Client support – superb. Throughout your involvement with them you will feel fully supported, and that can continue after the funeral if you want. They can signpost you and your family to appropriate bereavement support and clients have access to the online bereavement support group run by Full Circle Funerals.
    • Money matters – excellent value for money for the person-centred service you and your family will receive.
    • Parking – available outside.

     

    Remarks:

    Jez and Sara are exactly the kind of people who we would want to find if we needed to arrange a funeral. Thoughtful, gentle and dedicated, they have the emotional intelligence and skills that we look for in all of our Recommended funeral directors, and with the considerable support behind them from the experienced team at Full Circle Funerals in Yorkshire, they already have settled into their roles as though they have been doing this work for ever.

    It is clear from the testimonials and references that we have read that the support offered by this funeral service is unparalleled in the area.  This is a result of shared knowledge and expertise from Full Circle Funerals and also due to the qualities and skills that Jez and Sara have brought to their work. It is clearly, for them, a vocation that will enrich their lives and serve their community for many years to come – we are delighted to include them in our list of funeral directors we would trust with someone we loved.

     

    Any decisions you take on engaging the services of a funeral director should be based on your views and research. You should not rely solely upon the views and opinions offered by us.

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    Kirsten
    1 year ago

    We had a high degree of agency over the ceremony in terms of our involvement in the event, and all the decisions re order of service etc.

    There was an attentiveness and thoughtfulness shown by Jez throughout. He went the extra mile for us and it was much appreciated. 

    Sally
    1 year ago

    It was beyond what I expected. Jez and Sara guided us through in such a gentle and caring maner. I can’t thank them enough for their wonderful support. 

    The support was absolutely perfect in every way. Jez and Sara went above and beyond to make everything perfect. 

    Patricia
    1 year ago

    Jez and Sara were so kind and thoughtful, we felt comforted. 

    Jane
    1 year ago

    I had wanted an experience that would be as easy as possible. I cannot thank Jez enough with the way he handled it with compassion and gentleness at all times. 

    The staff could not have been more supportive to me and my family. 

    J
    1 year ago

    Far exceeded expectations as remarked upon by so many attendees. Could not have been more supportive. A memorable experience that meant so much to myself, family and attendees. 

    Extremely satisfied does not do justice to my expreience during the most difficult period of my life. I and my family are deeply appreciative of the support. 

    Marlies
    10 months ago

    Sara and Jez were on hand at every stage with suggestions and ideas suited to our budget. The ay was as perfect as it could be and they made the whole process easy and without stress. Thank you for making a sad day a wonderful day to remember.

    Matthew
    10 months ago

    My family selected Full Circle Funerals after meeting Jez in the premises in Altrincham. Throughout all our dealings with Jez and Sara, we’ve been impressed with how professional and thoughtful they were. Nothing was too much trouble, they were always there to support and making funeral arrangements seemed less daunting thanks to them. Huge thanks to Jez and Sara for all their help in difficult times.

    Katherine
    4 months ago

    We used Full Circle twice this year and were blown away by the wonderful service on both occasions. They have a personal approach, listened to what we wanted and liased perfectly between different parties. Jez and Sara genuinely cared about us, they were present and always there when we needed them.

    Laura
    3 months ago

    S.L.
    I met Jez on a few occasions and I felt his explanation and the way he dealt with us as a family was exceptional. He always got back to me really quickly if I messaged him. Also the premises were brilliant: warm, nicely decorated and plenty of tea!
    Everyone is different and he tailored it all to meet our needs. He took his time and nothing was too much trouble. We didn’t feel daft for asking questions.
    Thank you

    Heather
    12 days ago

    Jez was so supportive through the whole process and kept me in the loop whenever he arranged anything for me. Having never organised a funeral before the whole process was explained from start to finish. The funeral was a lovely celebration of mum’s life.

    Sara was also a great support both planning the funeral before hand with mum and after mum’s death. She visited mum’s care home as I wanted mum to have some input into her own funeral.