At the weekend David and I were helping at an annual event called ‘KeechFest’ at our local hospice. Situated on the outskirts of Luton, Keech Hospice was founded 26 years ago by a local GP. Initially caring for adults, a children’s unit was added in March 2000.
The following is an extract from the hospice web site:
“Our hospice care is delivered to patients, children and their families in a variety of settings including the hospice, the family home, school or in hospital. We are there for our patients and their family and friends at a time in their lives when they need us most.
Imagine hearing the heart-breaking news that your child, spouse or parent has an incurable and devastating condition. At a time when it can feel like nothing may be the same again, Keech Hospice Care is here to help. We recognise that people diagnosed with terminal and life-limiting conditions not only experience physical symptoms, but also have social, emotional and spiritual needs as well. At Keech we offer care and support not just to the patient but the whole family. Through our specialised activities, clinical appointments, in-patient care, community nursing teams, art and music therapy, one to one counselling and drop-in sessions, we offer a holistic approach to a patient and their family’s needs.”
Those of you who have received Hospice support in whatever capacity will know that they are places of peace and serenity where burdens are lifted or eased, and, in the children’s unit especially, places where one can find respite, fun and laughter amidst the caring.
The Hospice movement relies very heavily on teams of volunteers. David works on the reception desk every Monday and on Tuesday evenings. I have to confess that my volunteering usually entails being one of Santa’s elves helping out with the ‘Smiley Sam’ train on the streets of Luton in December!
It costs in the order of £7m per annum to run the Keech Hospices and around 75% of this has to be funded by donations. It seems an enormous sum of money and we could be daunted by the task yet as I travel with ‘Smiley Sam’ the support of the whole community is amazing. One elderly lady in particular, who watches out every year for ‘Smiley Sam’ presents a jar of coins that she has faithfully gathered over the 12 months. Every penny counts!
Many of us work within our churches and communities on a voluntary basis and however small or insignificant each task may seem, when added together it’s amazing what can be achieved.