Sue Ryder could shut hospices in lockdown cash crisis

The Sue Ryder charity has launched an emergency appeal for donations after revealing it faces a shortfall of four to five million pounds a month because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The organisation supports healthcare by providing hospice services, both in-patient units and in the community with at-home care services nationally - including the Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, Berkshire.

Sue Ryder also runs neurological services and an online bereavement support service. However, the charity announced that the hospices may have to close, unless it receives extra funding soon.

Richard Littledale, whose wife Fiona was cared for at the Sue Ryder hospice in Reading said the compassion and care continued after his wife's death... and he wants others families to continue to have the same support.

Sue Ryder's Chief Executive, Heidi Travis, said they have had to shut more than 450 charity shops temporarily during the lockdown and that their fundraising activity has virtually come to a halt.

She has called for more Government support for the sector as a whole, saying that her charity alone has lost 70% of its monthly income. She also made an appeal to the public to help their local services.

It's not the only hospice organisation to be affected. Naomi House & Jacksplace hospices in Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight, are also facing serious challenges.

Naomi House & Jacksplace has closed 23 shops temporarily due to the coronavirus lockdown

The plea for financial help to retain hospice care services is echoed by 13-year-old Jack Browne. He was diagnosed with Lymphoid Leukaemia in 2018, a condition which attacks his white blood cells. He spent three months in the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, but now receives essential chemotherapy at home in Gravesend, Kent.

Jack Browne, 13, in hospital - he now also receives chemotherapy at home

Jack is under the care of the Ellenor children's service, one of the only children's hospice at home teams in the UK providing care for children with cancer. It means he can spend more time with his family.

Jack's nurse is Tricia Gilmore, a senior nurse at the organisation. She said she could see the change in him since he had begun to have some of his treatments at home.

The Ellenor children's service is appealing for help to keep its community work going, particularly during the COVID-9 pandemic. They say they want to keep children at risk of infection away from main hospitals as much as possible. The organisation needs to raise seven million pounds a year, but has seen a loss of more than one million pounds after having to close its charity shops.

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In response to the pleas for help for hospices, the Government has said that it is preparing a package to support them.