Strathcarron Hospice thanks public for support amid coronavirus crisis

The support shown towards a palliative and end-of-life care service by members of the public during the coronavirus pandemic has been praised by its chief executive.

By Jonathon Reilly
Thursday, 16th April 2020, 1:08 pm

Strathcarron Hospice is renowned in Falkirk district and beyond for the work the charity does to look after those with incurable illnesses and for always being there in times of need.

The consequences of the Covid-19 crisis have meant the hospice is one of many charitable organisations facing difficulties in securing a steady income.

Since the outbreak of the virus, people of all ages have been quick to help out the Fankerton-based service and come to its aid by devising a range of lockdown and social distancing-friendly fundraising methods.

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Strathcarron Hospice staff including chief executive Irene McKie (third from left) are grateful to the public for showing support during the Covid-19 lockdown. Picture: Michael Gillen.

Among the inventive events held on Strathcarron’s behalf are a two-year-old boy rolling himself down a hill 150 times — an act which has raked in almost £2000 so far — and runner Lewis Pentecost taking on a home-based half marathon which generated almost £3500.

Strathcarron Hospice chief executive Irene McKie admits she and her colleagues have been touched by the physical and financial lengths others are going to for the care service in unprecedented times.

She said: “It’s wonderful people are doing all these things.

“The public have been great so far. There’s some really lovely stuff happening which is really helpful.

“We’re very grateful to anyone who’s doing events and it’s really heartening for staff reading about these.

“It really cheers them up to know the public is behind them.”

As well as financial contributions, the hospice has received donations of hand cream and visors from Denny High School.

Dental surgeries have also provided its staff with personal protective equipment such as masks, aprons and gloves.

While such gestures will always be warmly received, management realise they are looking at a serious shortfall in funding this year due to the impact of coronavirus.

A summer programme of fundraisers including a golf day, a ladies’ lunch, a 10k and an abseil off the Forth Bridge would have brought in a significant amount of cash, yet each event has had to be cancelled.

Outlining other difficulties to have arisen from the outbreak of the pandemic, Ms McKie said: “We normally have collection cans in bars, in shops and in newsagents and most are closed or, if they’re open, nobody is using cash.

“That’s about £60,000 in a year. We also normally get a lot of income from retiral collections at funerals but not now because there are no big funerals.

“Over a whole year, we maybe get £250,000 from retiral collections.

“We’ve got to raise £13,000 per day and most of the sources of income aren’t going to be there, partly because some people who have lost income if they’re self-employed or some people who have lost their jobs won’t feel able to support us.

“A lot of people supported us by going to events and they’re just not happening.”

She added: “We hope we will get some money from the government very soon in the next week or so.

“We don’t quite know how much we’re getting but the government have acknowledged hospices are part of the solution.

“We have 17 shops and our shops are all shut so that’s income we haven’t got. We haven’t only lost shop income, we’ve still got rent to pay.

“It’s taking away a big chunk of income at a time when the NHS is expecting us to do as much if not more than usual because we’re part of the Covid-19 

“People just don’t want to go into hospitals. As the hospital gets full they will want us to take as many patients as possible. We’ve got to make sure we’re meeting everyone’s needs.”

Like several other employers, the hospice has been forced to furlough a number of employees to cut costs.

Paying tribute to all at Strathcarron, Ms McKie added: “Our staff are doing a fantastic job.

“It’s not always easy so we are really proud of everyone.”

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