By Suzy Fisk, Communications and Marketing Lead, St Christopher’s Hospice
At St Christopher’s Hospice we have been serving the community of South East London for over 50 years since our founding by hospice care pioneer, Dame Cicely Saunders, in 1967.
From our main building in Sydenham, and another in Orpington, we offer high-quality palliative and end-of-life care for the boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark. The aim of palliative care is to help people live well until they die; it’s not just about care for the very final days of life. Last year the hospice provided care and support to over 7,500 local people in need: from gym sessions and art therapy to complementary therapies, social work and welfare support, end-of-life care and bereavement support.
St Christopher’s aims to be both part of the community and for the community, and never has this been truer than in the last ten or so months. We have felt so appreciated and supported by our local community, just as our staff and volunteers have been finding new ways to safely keep supporting local people, despite the difficult circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 outbreak.
So much appreciation has been shown to our staff and volunteers, and the practical support that we received as the pandemic began to be felt in 2020 was overwhelming. From simple messages of thanks for the care that people have continued to receive through to donations of ready meals for staff, to the wonderful response that we received to our Emergency Appeal while we were forced to temporarily close our 26 charity shops and curtail fundraising events — thank you so much to everyone who have been behind us.
Meanwhile, at St Christopher’s, we continue to provide care and support for over 1,100 local people every day, despite the challenges. Our care teams, wearing PPE to keep everyone safe, have looked after patients and families both on our wards and in the community, where the vast majority of our care takes place. In fact, last year, over 14,000 visits were made to people’s homes or care homes. Where possible at the moment, however, teams use video consultations or telephone calls, to reduce the risk of infection by connecting people virtually.
To support our community, over Christmas 2020, volunteers with our Community Action Team delivered 175 gift bags, filled with small treats and presents donated by our staff and volunteers, which were given to isolated and vulnerable local people in their homes.
Despite these difficult times, we are also pleased to have something to look forward to in 2021. If you have travelled down Lawrie Park Road recently, you will have seen that our impressive new education building is nearly finished. St Christopher’s Hospice is a nationally and internationally recognised provider of palliative care education, and our new, purpose-built building will mean that we can offer our facilities for community use, as well as use state-of-the-art teaching facilities to support local families who want to learn how to better take care of a loved one at home. The building will be officially opened later this year, and we look forward to welcoming everyone inside.
At St Christopher’s we have over 500 dedicated staff and over 1,200 talented volunteers who make it the wonderfully positive, compassionate and skilled place that it is. However, St Christopher’s is a charity, and it costs £23 million every year to keep running our wide range of services. Around a third of this funding comes from the NHS, and the remaining £15 million has to be fundraised with the help of our community.
If you would like to offer your support, especially while we are facing lower income due to the temporary closure of our charity shops and curtailed fundraising events, you can give to the hospice in many ways, such as through donations, gifts in Wills, or volunteering. At the time of writing, our charity shops were closed but, when we are able to safely welcome you back inside, you can also support us by donating goods to one of our 26 high street shops, and perhaps finding a lovely bargain while you are in there! We sincerely hope that we will be able to see you soon.