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Luen’s final blog: My legacy

This is my last blog as I will be leaving the wonderful Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice later this month. Thank you to all my readers over the last 5 years, for engaging with what I’ve talked about and for supporting our charity.

I’ve been thinking about what my legacy is here at Forget Me Not. But also, as I’m retiring, I’ve been thinking more widely, having worked for 30 years in a number of children’s and health-based charities.

Key for me is that when I leave Forget Me Not, I do so knowing that the organisation is in safe hands. The senior leadership team has helped me to build strong foundations for the charity and shape our ambitious plans for the future. And an integral member of that team, Gareth Pierce, is now ready to take the helm. A passionate advocate for our work and the families who need us, Gareth will be brilliant as CEO and will continue to drive this organisation forward. This is succession planning at its finest, ensuring a seamless transfer so that the focus can remain on our vital work.

I have spent some of the last year using my position to draw attention to issues around the funding of hospices. Last week, I gave evidence in parliament about the impact of poor levels of hospice funding, made even more difficult in the current cost of living crisis, as we bear the cost of energy price hikes and spiraling wages in competing sectors. There is now a government-led inquiry into hospice funding that will report in the autumn. This will give us leverage with our Integrated Care Board (ICB) locally to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable funding for all hospices in West Yorkshire, a commitment I helped to secure over the last few years.

I have also engaged with campaigns to secure the children’s hospice grant which is worth £550k to us, or 10% of our turnover. The grant has been extended for a further year thanks to Forget Me Not and many other children’s hospice leaders speaking out publicly on what might be lost if this grant did not continue. 

We have also spoken out about sudden unexplained or unexpected deaths of children which again has been discussed in parliament this year. As a result, these most tragic of deaths are now more visible, which in turn will garner more support for families devastated by the loss of their child. Our trailblazing service supporting these families in West Yorkshire is now starting to be copied by others through our sharing of best practice and contributions to key reports which underpin policy and organisational learning.

I learnt the value of this type of engagement from colleagues I have worked with in other charities; people who know how to identify the levers, build the right strategic relationships and work with people of influence to effect change. Of course, anything I have done I have not done alone – teamwork and collaboration is absolutely key. This was an underpinning principle which worked really well when I worked at the Carers Trust and was involved in launching Young Carers Awareness Day in 2015. This event, backed by legislated rights for young carers, is now firmly on the agenda of anyone who works with young carers, and has helped deliver lots of positive change and better services and support. 

I will be sad to leave Forget Me Not, but I’m also very proud of everything I have achieved. I want to thank everyone who supports our work. Whether that’s with time or money, you enable us to make a real difference to local families. And you’re also helping to secure a better future for hospices so that everyone, no matter their age, can access services that provide them with choice, dignity and respect. Thank you.

And my final legacy? I have, of course, left a gift in my will, so that even when I am truly gone, I can still make a difference to the families in West Yorkshire who need our support.