'Support us' plea as Yorkshire charity warns it could be forced to close hospices

The Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds. Picture: James HardistyThe Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty
The Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty | jpimedia
THE NATIONAL charity for end of life care has urged the public to provide “every bit of help” they can to support struggling hospices as a Yorkshire care provider warned it is on the brink of financial ruin - and could be forced to close some of its hospices.

The Sue Ryder charity, which was founded in Leeds and runs two hospices in the region, in Keighley and Headingley, Leeds, said that without funds, it will be forced to close its hospices and stop caring for people in their own homes within months.

It anticipates a £12m funding gap over the next three months, with fundraisers cancelled and its 450 shops closed during the coronavirus lockdown measures.

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The charity says it has been calling on the Government for support for “several weeks” but no funding has materialised - and now out of "desperation", is turning to the public for help with an emergency appeal.

It comes as hospice and end of life care charities across Yorkshire launch similar appeals for support.

Sue Ryder chief executive Heidi Travis said: "The country will lose its hospices at a time when they are needed most.

"Our doctors and nurses are working night and day to provide end-of-life care to more people now and in the coming weeks, than ever before.

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"We are a critical frontline support service in the fight against coronavirus yet we are on the brink of closure.

"We are all facing something we have never faced before and we are asking the public to give whatever you can afford to help us to help those who need it most."

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, statutory funding covered a third of the charity's end-of-life care costs.

The rest came from fundraising and income from its 450 charity shops.

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The national charity for hospice care, Hospice UK, said it was “very concerned” about the impact Covid-19 was having on charitable hospices.

Director of campaigns and communications, Sarah West, said funding from events, hospice shops and charitable donations had “reduced dramatically” since the pandemic started.

“We are working closely with Government and hospices to find ways to address funding at this particularly difficult time and we urge the public to support your local hospice where you can,” she said. “You can donate clothes, give a monthly gift, join the hospice lottery, become a volunteer or even take on a sponsored exercise challenge from home. Every bit of help is crucial.”

York-based St Leonard’s Hospice, which also provides palliative care at home, has urged supporters to donate as they face an “immediate and significant income challenge” after cancelling a number of fundraising events and closing 14 shops.

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Chief executive Emma Johnson said: "We fully support the appeal to the government for financial help for Hospices at this challenging time. St Leonard's Hospice is in a good financial position relative to some other hospices who are facing possible closure.

“Hospices have always provided a vital service within the local community but we are needed now more than ever as we work collaboratively with our NHS partners and colleagues to respond to a significant increase in demand.”

Kirkwood Hospice in Kirklees has also launched an emergency fundraising appeal to raise money towards the £20,000 a day it needs to operate.

Chief executive Michael Crowther said: “The coronavirus pandemic is having a big impact on the money that Kirkwood can generate to provide care for local people when they need it most.

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“As a charity, we need to invest in new clinical staff and equipment on our In-Patient Unit during this crisis, and we’re offering more support than ever via telephone. We’re also using new technology to keep in touch with our community-based patients who may be isolated.

“But at a time when are relying on our existing resources to support the most vulnerable people in our community, our sources of income are under greater pressure than ever.

“Eighty percent of our funds come from the local community, and without our regular income streams, like our lottery, shops, gifts in wills and general donations, the long term impact on our services could prove extremely challenging.

“Kirkwood has been fortunate to receive amazing support from our local community for over 30 years. As a result, Kirkwood faces coronavirus as a resilient charity. However, this is a really challenging time and we will need to continue looking at alternate ways to generate income over the next few weeks in order to invest in services today, and into the future.

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Northallerton-based Herriot Hospice Homecare, which provides care at home across Hambleton and Richmondshire, has made a similar appeal on its website after closing its shops and postponing events.

A Government spokesperson said: "Charities and volunteers have a vital role to play in the fight against coronavirus - and we recognise the pressures they are under.

“We continue to work closely with the charity sector to make sure help is directed where it is needed and to discuss how we can support further."

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