A MUCH loved hospice has urged the community ‘not to wash its hands of us’ as the crisis caused by coronavirus threatens to stifle fundraising efforts.

St Teresa’s Hospice needs to raise £3m a year to provide free day, in-patient and community care for people living with life-limiting illnesses and their families in Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

But the pandemic is threatening its life-blood by limiting events and its ability to attract vital donations.

Emergency measures have already been put in place to protect the health of patients, volunteers and staff and keep open the hospice’s string of charity shops, which are so critical to continued income generation.

St Teresa’s Hospice Chief Executive Jane Bradshaw said: “This crisis is unprecedented and we fully appreciate the worry and disruption the virus is causing worldwide. But we pray, that in the melee, the community we have served for more than 30 years doesn’t wash its hands of us and helps us get through this turbulent period, so we can pay our essential workforce.

“We rely on the public’s support and fear that many of the events, such as running and sponsored cycle rides, may be postponed or cancelled.

“High profile events, such as the Great North Run and London Marathon, have been major sources of income for the hospice as our lovely family of supporters go to extraordinary lengths to help us continue our work. Unfortunately these might not take place or may be postponed which will severely affect our fundraising efforts.”

The hospice’s own annual fundraisers are also under constant review as the health crisis deepens.

The hospice has reviewed all of its services to boost levels of infection control even higher. The day services have been transferred to telephone only, while in-patient visitors must phone in advance, with numbers being limited to two per patient.

Vital community services, including home and rapid response care, will continue but patients will be asked whether they or any members of their family have exhibited coronavirus symptoms or been in contact with anyone who is self-isolating.

The hospice’s charity shops will remain open until further notice with staff and volunteers following official handwashing and sanitising advice. The hospice eBay shop will be operated by staff from home and house clearances will continue.

An on-line appeal has been launched with a Just Giving Page and members of the public can also become official ‘Friends of the Hospice’. Fundraising packs can also be obtained offering ideas to help raise money during any periods of isolation.

Mrs Bradshaw added: “This community has supported the hospice incredibly well for more than three decades. With some help to tide us over during this extraordinary period I am sure we can meet these challenges to continue to help local people during their most testing times.”