Hospice Care Week: Saint Francis Hospice calls for the community's continued support as it turns 35 this year
PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 September 2019
Saint Francis Hospice
Saint Francis Hospice has been helping families through some of the most difficult times in their lives with end-of-care care for their loved ones for decades.
The charity, made up of a team of specialist consultants, doctors, nurses and a range of other health and social care professionals, provide care and support to individuals with a life-limiting illness, as well as their carers and family members.
It helps those across Havering, Brentwood, Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and West Essex and this year marks the Havering-atte-Bower hospice's 35th birthday.
But how did it all begin?
It was the brainchild of Dr Dorothy Rule, Peter Smith and Joan Matthews who in the mid-80s got together in a small flat in Hornchurch to discuss how on earth they could get this hospice idea off the ground.
But when they were just about to leave, Peter said: "Maybe we should start fundraising tonight!"
Each of them dipped into their pockets and put a five pound note on the table.
This was the first funds to ever be collected for Saint Francis Hospice.
The hospice opened with 10 beds, soon reaching 12, 16, and then 22 in 2013.
In the beginning, everybody had to do everything — from fundraising and cleaning, to nursing and supporting bereaved families.
Even now, Saint Francis Hospice's 250 members of staff help out across the hospice, which is very much part of its ethos.
The hospice's very first matron, Sue Waite, arrived with a pregnant cat who gave birth to kittens in a cupboard — now the HR office. The cat could often be seen curled up, keeping a bed warm for a patient.
It is steeped in feline history and the staff always aspire to bring cats back to the gardens, set in the beautiful surroundings of the quaint village that is Havering-atte-Bower.
Saint Francis Hospice's first medical directors in 1984 were Anthony Smith and Peter Kershaw.
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They used to volunteer 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 52 weeks a year — yet still didn't think anything of it.
Chief executive Pam Court explained that there weren't so many rules and regulations in those days: "You could pretty much do what you wanted — and I suspect that you did!"
With 18 retails stores, an eBay shop, 850 volunteers and planning permission to expand the hospice's imposing 19th-century mansion to be in place by its 36th birthday, Saint Francis Hospice isn't showing any signs of slowing down.
But in order to keep its amazing work going, the hospice needs your help.
Hospice Care Week, which runs between Monday, October 7, to Sunday, October 13, is an annual celebration to raise the profile of hospice care across the UK.
This year's theme is This Is What It Takes.
As an independent charity and one of the largest adult hospices in the UK, Saint Francis Hospice has an important role to play in the communities that it serves.
It continues to be committed to helping anyone in our communities affected by life-limiting illness, and to ensuring they receive excellent person-centred care when they need it, ideally in a place of their choosing.
The values that underpin all that the charity aspires to do on an everyday basis are support, fairness and honesty.
But the need to find funding is as relevant now as it was 35 years ago.
With only 27per cent of the hospice's funding coming from the government, it needs to raise £7.8 million in voluntary income this year.
To be able to run its services efficiently - and free of charge - Saint Francis Hospice needs to find £21,000 a day to keep going.
That's what it takes to run Saint Francis Hospice — plus a whole lot more.
To find out more about Hospice Care Week, visit hospiceuk.org
Visit Saint Francis Hospice, visit sfh.org.uk