Watch Ben McGrail's report from Taunton
A hospice based in Taunton and Yeovil is facing one of its biggest financial challenges with costs soaring and fundraising harder than ever.
St Margaret’s provides end-of-life care to people in Somerset. With £4million pounds needed this financial year, the charity has called on people to support it so it can continue to help families.
One person, who has been supported by the hospice, is Sandra Deighton. She was diagnosed with incurable secondary bone cancer last year and is encouraging people to support the charity's summer appeal.
Since her diagnosis, Sandra has been cared for by staff at St Margaret’s Hospice both in the community and in the hospice’s In-patient unit. Sandra, her husband Mike and her son, Paul, have also benefitted from other services the hospice offers including its 24-hour Adviceline and are continuing to receive support.
Sandra said: “The nurses, the carers right down to the cleaners and the volunteers, it was absolutely fantastic.
“It’s not often that I can’t fault something, but I can’t in this case. They didn’t just look after me but Mike as well. You feel like you are treated one to one.”
Michelle Hancock, head of fundraising engagement at St Margaret’s, said the hospice needs the community’s help now more than ever so it can continue to care for patients and their families.
She said: “It's really difficult for everyone, isn’t it? The cost of living crisis is really starting to bite. It's certainly starting to bite at the hospice now.
"Those utility bills, they're not going to be going down this year. So that's the same as it is for everyone out there. We know that we need to work even harder to raise enough money this year to be able to keep service running and provide that care for people like Sandra and her family.
“We’re so grateful to Sandra for sharing her story and to her son Paul, who raised over £1,000 for us after being inspired by the support we gave to Sandra."
Anna Saunders is a senior nurse at the hospice in Taunton. Her job is to help people at the end of their lives. She said: "For me, it's a massive privilege and it can be rewarding to give somebody a good death.
"People think about death and how can it be rewarding? But when you've had somebody that's been struggling, whether that's at home or here with us, and you get on top of the symptoms, you're looking after their family and you can go home at the end of the day and know it can be really sad at times but also you can go and say, ‘I have done the best job I can possibly do.
"I love coming to work. I love coming to her every single shift. I really enjoy working with the team and I really enjoy looking after these patients and giving them a better experience. That's what it's all about."
While the care Anna and her colleagues give here is hugely valued, it is expensive.
St Margaret’s is trying to fundraise £4million this financial year. In the past, events would bring money in - but the Covid pandemic wiped out this source of income.
It’s hoped the summer appeal, centred on the experience of Sandra, will see people digging deep to donate.