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Luen’s blog: The true value of money

The last few weeks have been a valuable lesson about the importance of money. At the beginning of July, we were forced to close our new children’s hospice in Bury. Despite there being a real need for children’s hospice services in the area, we simply couldn’t raise enough money to open it fully and keep it going. With no support from NHS England and a very small offer of support from one of the local clinical commissioning groups, we were completely reliant on the generosity of the local community to fund the services.

When the TV crews came, they were astounded at how lovely the facilities were and, despite everything being brand new, that we were closing down. But the stark reality for us was that while people readily gave us things for the hospice – equipment, toys, bedding, beds, computers and so on – it was much, much more difficult to raise money to run the hospice, day in, day out.

This is totally understandable. People like their donation to have a tangible impact – to be able to see something for their money.

But it’s the care we deliver every day that really needs funding. It’s the care we deliver that makes the tangible impact; care that means a mum gets a night off from having to turn her child over every three hours, care that means a brother can talk through how he’s feeling in a counselling session, and care that means a family can share a few precious moments together making memories to last a lifetime.

And here’s the truth: “things” do not deliver this care, people do. And if you can’t pay their wages, they won’t work for you. Not only that, but delivering services that comply with the regulatory standards we must adhere to, requires highly trained specialist staff, just as you would expect in a hospital. And that costs money too.

So although we have 3.5 volunteers for every 1 member of staff, a very proactive fundraising team and a huge amount of goodwill in the community, it still comes down to money. And if there isn’t enough money, services have to close.

Ours isn’t the only service forced to close or reduce its services, of course. During this era of austerity we have seen numerous public services closing – with the knock-on effect of more of their work having to be picked up by charities like ours. Many of the families we support have already been affected by cuts to the public services they rely on to keep going, take a break, and do really basic things like getting a full night’s sleep … they do not need to experience even more pressure. Forget Me Not is so often their last hope.

So while of course we are extremely grateful for all the equipment and kit that is donated for us to use in the hospice, the bottom line is we need money. Every single day it costs us £8,200 to run Russell House, our children’s hospice in Huddersfield, 80% of which is spent directly on delivering care to children and families.

If you believe that a children’s hospice is needed in West Yorkshire, then please keep on giving, but please do so in pounds or by donating your unwanted stuff to our shops for us to sell. Because whether your money funds a minute, an hour or a day of care, it will help us be here for families, however they need us, whatever the future holds.

Click here to donate today. Thank you!