A 20-YEAR-OLD had to take out two credit cards and use her student loan to pay for her father’s funeral after she was told she was unable to receive financial support.

Cerys Evans, from Caerphilly, lost her father Williams Evans on May 19 after he developed sepsis and pneumonia when hospitalised with a liver infection.

“With the coronavirus stuff, only I could say goodbye,” she said.

“My younger sister (Lily) had to say bye on video call the afternoon before.”

South Wales Argus:

(Cerys says her father was "really funny".)

Dealing with death of a loved one is always emotionally devastating, but financial worries added extra stress.

“All the funeral arrangements had to go through me as I was the next of kin,” she said.

“I had heard other people had been given the Funeral Expenses Payment so I thought I would be able to use that.”

The payment – up to £1,000 - provides help to cover costs such as burial and cremation fees.

But Ms Evans was unable to receive the financial aid as it is only for those on some form of welfare support.

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Even with “family chucking in where they could," she had to use up the rest of her student loan, cancel the order of a laptop vital to her studies and take out two credit cards.

And even then, she wasn’t able to give her father the funeral he had imagined.

South Wales Argus:

(A family photo from 2006 of older sister Chloe (middle), Cerys (middle), Lily (right) and mum Belynda.)

“He died so unexpectedly; he was only 51.

“He always told us what he wanted at his funeral, but we couldn’t do it.

“The only thing we could really do for him was play his songs, Road to Nowhere and You’ll Never Walk Alone, for Liverpool.

“We had some flowers too. It was still a nice funeral, but there were things we couldn’t do for him.

“We covered his coffin in a Welsh flag because it was just a basic one.”

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Ms Evans juggles her studies at the University of South Wales by working weekends at Boots; but she is only contracted for 16 hours a week.

“I am paying rent, paying bills – I just did not have enough.”

To not be eligible for the payment was “kick in the teeth”, she says.

She has also had to be there for her younger sister, Lily.

“It was hard because she is only 14 and it had hit her sideways,” she said.

South Wales Argus:

(William poses for a selfie with Lily.)

“She knew certain bits were missing from the funeral, but I think she understood why we couldn’t do them.”

Her dad had taken out life insurance but had only been on the plan for half a year, meaning the family did not qualify for a payment – as he had to be on the plan for a year.

“Dad was lovely, he was mad,” she adds.

“He was a really funny person and really well known.”

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As only ten people were allowed to attend his funeral, a hearse was driven past his flat in Lansbury Park, where more than a hundred people came out to say goodbye.

“That’s something I knew he would’ve loved, all the attention.”

South Wales Argus:

(The hearse was driven around where he lived so people could say goodbye.)

And now Ms Evans has launched an online petition, asking the government to consider allowing students facing financial difficulty to be eligible for the Funeral Expenses Payment.

You can sign the petition here.

“I just don’t want anybody to go through the same thing that I did.”

A spokesman for the UK Government said: “Losing a loved one is incredibly distressing, and our hearts go out to anyone experiencing bereavement.

“The financial assistance we offer is targeted at those on qualifying benefits to ensure that the most vulnerable are supported with these costs.”

They added that exceptions are only made where students have needs not met by the student support system, such as being responsible for a child or are disabled.