Sussex hospices need your help as funding is hit by ongoing lockdown

Hospices in Sussex suffered a huge hit to their finances last year with many of the big public fundraisers they rely on for income falling victim to the pandemic.

Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 9:47 am

And now, as the third national lockdown continues, they are still unable to open the charity shops that are so important in providing an income stream.

Only this week, St Catherine’s Hospice, in Crawley, announced there would be no ‘in-person’ fundraising events in 2021.

Head of fundraising Tom Abbott said the decision was taken to keep its supporters safe. He said: “Coronavirus has hit us hard and last year, we had a drop of around £1.5million in income. Postponing our events will inevitably have an impact on our finances but it’s the right thing for us to do.”

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The hospice has launched a Telephone Buddy service. Liz Carter, wellbeing services manager, said: “The third lockdown and winter still firmly being with us has inevitably had an impact on our patients and their families. So our Telephone Buddy service is still available for socially isolated patients and family members or carers who would like a friendly chat with one of our trained volunteers over a 12 week period.”

Demelza Hospice Care for Children, which serves Sussex, said income had taken a huge hit. Ryan Campbell, chief executive at Demelza, said: “2020 has been an extremely difficult year for the hundreds of children with serious or terminal conditions, all relying on Demelza’s unique care and support.

“We would normally be gearing up to a busy time of year, looking forward to sales in our shops, planning our event schedule for the year and encouraging supporters to take on a new challenge for 2021. But our shops are closed and events cancelled due to the third wave of national restrictions. This has hit our income significantly and the uncertainty over when restrictions will lift is concerning. But it hasn’t stopped us.

“Demelza will go on for as long as our reserves hold out but if you feel able to donate, please go to www.demelza.org.uk.”

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St Wilfrid’s Hospice, in Eastbourne, was forced to cancel its February Pancake Race fundraiser due to the current lockdown. The hospice, which marks its 40th anniversary in 2021, supports more than 2,000 people each year.

David Scott-Ralphs, chief executive of St Wilfrid’s, said: ‘Never before have hospice services been more needed than in the past year and never have we been more challenged to keep our services going. It has been a fantastic effort by our staff teams and, as a group of hospice CEOs, we are really proud that we have been able to play our part. There continue to be many uncertainties in the months ahead but we are confident that, with the support of our local communities we will emerge stronger and more resilient. We are grateful to everyone who has shown their support and we hope people will continue to find ways to help in the months ahead.”

The Sussex Beacon hospice, in Brighton, which provides specialist care and support for people living with HIV, has seen loss of revenue from events and retail. The uncertainty has made it difficult to plan events for later in the year, prolonging the financial issues. Bill Puddicombe, chief executive, said: “The charity has continued to support people living with HIV as we always do.”

The Martlets Hospice, in Hove, said last year brought ‘extraordinary challenges’. It was forced to cancel all its events but was able to keep going due to the incredible generosity of the community.

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Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice, near Arundel, had to close respite care during the first lockdown, while some staff joined NHS intensive care teams in Chichester, Southampton and Worthing hospitals.

Although the hospice has received government funding, which it is grateful for, it will be running on a deficit budget for next year.

St Barnabas House Hospice, in Worthing, has remained open throughout the pandemic and adapted its services, adding new beds, and increasing end-of-life care in the community. The hospice has seen a 50 per cent increase in referrals caused not only by Covid-19 itself, but by a surge in patients due to delayed diagnoses and non-treatment. It said this has had a huge emotional impact on patients, their families and on hospice staff.

Before the virus, patients spent an average of 10 days at the hospice. Since the pandemic, patients were arriving only to spend three days, and more recently, were having an average of one day at the hospice.

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Cathy Stone, chief executive, said: “Throughout all of this our staff have been amazing, rising to meet every challenge. They’ve found physical distancing, wearing PPE and the visiting restrictions so hard. Public support has also been amazing, people have climbed Everest on their house stairs and swum the English Channel in their paddling pools.”

Leo House at Home funds paediatric nurses which are managed by Chestnut Tree House. A small charity, its fundraising has been severely impacted by Covid-19. Leo was chosen as one of the mayor of Brighton’s charities for 2020 which saw three major fundraising events cancelled. It said collecting tins in pubs had been a non-starter due to closures and people were using credit cards instead of cash.

Hospice in the Weald serves part of North Sussex. Rob Woolley, chief executive at Hospice in The Weald, said: “Never has there been a more pressing time than in the current situation with local hospitals at full capacity and no visitors allowed. Hospice in the Weald caters for people to live out their final days, weeks or months comfortably with their loved ones around them.”

St Peter and St James Hospice, which serves Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill and Lewes, said it had been significantly impacted by the pandemic and needs to raise £8,000 a day to run its services. It is continuing to fund raise through virtual events, the latest being a virtual bike ride.

St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Chichester is asking people to continue to support it by signing up to take part in a skydive or sign up for the London Marathon in October.

St Michael’s Hospice, which serves Hastings and Rother, is heavily dependent on the generosity of local individuals, companies, groups and trusts and needs to raise well over £5.3million each year to maintain its current levels of service. It is hoping its virtual Yelllow Day event this month will bring in more vital funds.

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People will be able to directly support their local hospice by joining in with a series of online quizzes in March organised by The Friends of Sussex Hospices.

The big county-wide fundraiser is being supported by comedian and popular TV quiz host Alexander Armstrong.

Alexander, who presents the BBC’s Pointless programme, said: “I am delighted to endorse the Mega March Hospice Quiz 20-21 Online.

“Hospices do such wonderful work for their local communities.

“The pandemic has made it much more difficult for hospices to raise the funds that are needed to provide care and support, so please join the Mega March Hospice Quiz 20-21 online from the comfort of your home.

“Have fun and remember there is nothing ‘pointless’ about hospice care.”

There will be four online quizzes to run at weekly intervals throughout March. Each quiz will be made up of 21 questions which have to be answered in 20 minutes.

There will be a weekly winner and an overall winner for the four-week programme.

Participants will be encouraged to make a donation at the time of registering and will be able to select the Sussex hospice care provider of their choice when they sign up.

People can get all the information about MMHQ 20-21 online and register to take part at www.friendsofsussexhospices.org.uk/mmhq-online/.

People can register as individuals, in pairs, or as a family.

Christine Field, chairman of Friends of Sussex Hospices, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Alexander Armstrong is endorsing our 20-21 Mega March Quiz. We hope that moving our quiz online will provide a little enjoyment not only for our dedicated quizzers but everyone who is spending time at home.

“Sussex Hospices are providing vital care to our communities in these challenging times. It’s never been a better time to support your local hospice – and have fun.”

A big annual fundraiser that the Friends of Sussex Hospices hold every year, and which still went ahead last year, is the Sussex Hospice Trail, a series of staged walks covering 200 miles and connecting all the Sussex hospices.

Keen walkers have the option of taking on the whole trail, which supporter Kathy Gore completed last year, but they can also choose to walk smaller sections in the area of their local hospice.

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