If we’re thinking about what organisations are on the frontline for the coronavirus outbreak then we should be talking about hospices.
Not only do hospices provide end of life care for people with weakened immune systems – many of whom have complex needs – but they also rely on fundraising to keep going. Donations to retail shops, bucket collections, midnight walks and fundraising appeals all help provide the specialist and dedicated care that’s provided for people at the end of their lives.
Many hospices around the UK are already operating a budget deficit – meaning they are spending more than they are bringing in. Some have even closed down. In a recent article in The Guardian Owen Jones pointed out how ludicrous it is that hospices are funded in this way, “If the test of a civilised society is how we treat our most vulnerable, and the promise of our NHS is to provide state-of-the-art care from cradle to grave, then we are failing. We should all expect to be able to die with comfort, dignity and love. Our society does not lack the wealth to realise this aspiration, but the willpower.”
Before we started providing communications and marketing support to Ashgate Hospicecare in Chesterfield I didn’t know too much about hospices and how they are funded. I remember going to a northern powerhouse event with former Chancellor George Osborne where he’d made the argument that having to raise so much of their income helped ensure that hospices were truly part of the fabric of their local community.
Well that end of life funding model and argument is certainly about to be put to the test. Hospices around the UK will need the support of their local community more than ever in the coming weeks and months.