St Oswald’s Hospice is a charity that has needed to adapt their services due to Coronavirus, to make sure that patients receive the same outstanding care, as safely as possible.

Their Focus on Living services, which are open to people with life-shortening conditions during the day, are no longer provided on site. The Hospice continues to support local people through weekly phone conversations and online arts and crafts groups.

The groups give people an opportunity to come together for fun and friendship, and to learn new skills.

Alison Louch, 57 from Bedlington, has been supported by St Oswald’s since September last year. Alison is living with a lung condition called bronchiectasis, and like many people with a long-term health condition, she was asked to shield and stay at home during lockdown.

Alison said: “Despite an initial reluctance to go to St Oswald’s, I loved it. The people are all really lovely; I always felt as spoilt as the staff couldn’t do enough for me.

“As I have bronchiectasis, I was advised to stay at home and shield in March, so instead of attending St Oswald’s every week, I have received support at home for the last six months. The staff at the Hospice have continued to be there for me, and as well as phone calls to check in, the staff have organised online arts classes, which have been brilliant. Throughout lockdown the groups gave me something to look forward to and I know through winter they will be just as important to keep me going.”

The online arts and craft classes are an opportunity for new and existing St Oswald’s patients to access essential support and friendship until it is safe to return to the Hospice. Alison continued:

“The groups have felt more like a coffee morning to me. It has been lovely to see other people and St Oswald’s staff.  The staff have continued to be brilliant, and all of the materials for the classes have been sent to me so that I haven’t had to leave the house. I’ve never really had a hobby but I have a new found love of embroidery and I am always so excited to receive the bundle of materials every week.”

This year, many charitable hospices, like St Oswald’s Hospice, are facing financial challenges, with the support they receive from the public being more important than ever before.

Hospice UK estimates that since the COVID crisis begin in March, collectively hospices have lost in the region of £70 million in fundraised income.  Many hospices in England rely on 70% of their funding from public donations through charity shops and fundraisers, which has not been possible during the pandemic.

As a charity, St Oswald’s relies on the generosity of local people and need the ongoing and generous support of their community during this crisis.  If you’d like to help safeguard the Hospice financially and enable them to continue to offer their vital services you can donate via their Covid-19 Response Appeal online at www.stoswaldsuk.org/urgent-appeal or by calling 0191 246 9123.

For more information about Hospice Care Week, visit the Hospice UK website