As a charity, Saint Francis Hospice has always had the constant challenge of raising the income needed to provide its extensive end of life care and support services to the local community.
Unfortunately, this is made even more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic, forcing its 16 retail stores to close, fundraising activities and events to be cancelled and its education centre’s training program to be put on hold.
As a result the Hospice is seeing a significant drop in income compared to the same period in 2019.
Despite making considerable savings this year by freezing 12 staff vacancies and changing the way it works and its Urgent Appeal raising over £51,000, there is still a shortfall in income to meet costs.
It is now calling on staff to consider a reduction in hours as well as seeking to make up to 10 voluntary redundancies to help secure the Hospice’s future.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Saint Francis Hospice has continued to provide its end of life care and support services to people living in Brentwood, Havering, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge and parts of West Essex,” said Pam Court, Chief Executive Officer at the Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower.
“The Hospice has seen an increase in demand for our services caused by hospitals refocusing their services through the pandemic. Alongside an increase in demand we have had to comply with social distancing requirements, the need to protect staff and patients through the purchase and use of PPE which has led to us needing to deliver services in new and innovative ways.
“But sadly, the Hospice, like so many other charities, has been hit hard by the pandemic.”
“Despite receiving over £1m from the government since April and the cost savings we have made so far, we still need to reduce our costs. Now we are looking to make around £400,000 in cost cuts and we hope that will be enough.
“The Hospice’s income is likely to be reduced over the next year or two and possibly longer, and our priority is to secure our future and safeguard our staff and services.”
Doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals running the in-patient ward, community nursing and family support are among the services the Hospice is protecting by keeping cuts to a minimum in these areas and working hard to deliver services in new and virtual ways.
“We have to protect our core services so we can continue to be there for people who need specialist end of life care, just as we have during the pandemic.
“We enabled families and loved ones to visit safely throughout lockdown and this has meant so much to people at such a difficult time, the hospice has been a place of comfort and support for so many.”
Pam Court said the leadership team would be reviewing the financial position again at the end of 2020 and called on the community to help the Hospice continue to be there for people when they need it.
“The local community has been incredibly supportive during the pandemic and we have been overwhelmed by the generous offers of support and the innovative fundraising ideas people have come up with,” said Pam.
“Our need for support is now greater than ever and we are calling on people to help us in any way they can so we can continue caring for people affected by end of life illnesses for many years to come.”
How you can help Saint Francis Hospice• Sponsor one of our nurses with a regular donation (set up a direct debit – it’s a great way to help in the long term)• Play our weekly lottery • Hold a coffee morning and raise funds from friends and family• Take part in a virtual event and get yourself sponsored• Start shopping in our shops that are open• Support our appeal
To find out how you can help Saint Francis Hospice, visit sfh.org.uk.