It is just over a year since St Wilfrid’s launched its Dreambuilding public appeal to fund its new hospice and in 12 months dreams have become a reality.
The charity has outgrown its Donnington home of 30 years and is moving to a modern, larger facility in Bosham.
Last January staff asked the community they have served so well for help to fund the £15.5m project – and the response has been quite phenomenal.
The end of 2017 saw the Dreambuilding project hit 84 per cent of its target, just over £13m, and the foundations of the new building in Waltons Lane laid.
This month marks another huge milestone in St Wilfrid’s rich history because construction of the hospice itself has just begun.
Chief executive Alison Moorey said: “Now building has finally started it feels like a reality after years of planning.
“We expect the building to go up quite quickly, it’s very exciting for all of our staff and volunteers.”
Supporters have spent the last 12 months concocting all sorts of money-spinning events and Mrs Moorey was full of praise for everyone who has rallied behind what is the biggest project in St Wilfrid’s history.
She said: “The support we’ve had has been absolutely fantastic.
“The community as a whole has totally got behind what we’re doing, people have been doing all sorts of fundraising, from putting Christmas lights up to hosting dream dinners, people have been so engaged.”
Although 16 per cent may seem small – it equates to another £2.5m still to be raised.
With limited Government funding and huge day-to-day running costs still having to be raised alongside Dreambuilding, St Wilfrid’s needs the fundraising momentum to continue.
Alison said: “We have now hit 84 per cent of our total, which is fantastic, but there is still a way to go.
“The ongoing support from the public will be even more important when we get into our new home but I’m confident we will hit our target.
“We get some NHS funding, it’s around 15 per cent, so we rely hugely on public donations and legacies.
“The Dreambuilding hospice appeal has been hugely successful but alongside that we’ve had to continue to raise money for our day-to-day running costs and I’m delighted that has also been very successful.
“The publicity around the move means more people know about us, which is great.
“The big long-term challenge as always is for people to understand what our hospice is about and the range of services we offer.”
Care out in the community at people’s homes is ever more preferable.
The physical building where people receive the very best end-of-life care and their families are supported is just part of what St Wilfrid’s offers.
The new hospice will not only have double the amount of usable space for patient rooms and activities, crucially, it will enable more than 240 patients at any one time to receive dignified, end-of-life care at home.
Alison said: “Over 60 per cent of people are now cared for close to or in their own home out of choice.
“Our new building will have a lot more space. There’s currently very little space for community groups to grow and develop care in people’s homes, for the hospice at home and the community nurses as well as the day hospice, so there will be the opportunity to grow these teams in the future.”
The new hospice will have private family retreat rooms, something the Donnington site was too small to offer.
There will be more outpatient clinics, rooms for complementary therapies, occupational therapies and physiotherapy, along with a dedicated gym and art therapy room.
St Wilfrid’s cares for people across the south coast, from Emsworth to Arundel and north to the South Downs, one of the oldest populations in the country.
To make sure it meets the current and growing future need of its community, extensive work has been done with other hospices which have also undergone moves.
“Although we are separate charities, hospices are very good at working together,” Alison said.
“To make sure we get this right, we’ve travelled to St Barnabas in Worthing, St Wilfrid’s in Eastbourne, and Arthur Rank in Cambridge, who have all moved to new homes, to learn and share from them.
“That’s been so important to find out what we want and don’t want our hospice to be.
“What’s crucial is for us to keep the feel of our current hospice.
“Yes it will be different and we love our vision of the converted barn feel but we need to maintain the feeling of warmth and friendly culture.
“We don’t want to change so people think we are a totally different organisation, so that will be the challenge for our staff and volunteers and one I’m confident we’ll meet.”
“We are all about people, that’s what we do best and that will never change.
The new hospice is due to be fully open for patients this time next year but, throughout 2018, departments will begin to move across, once the facility is finished in a few months.
The move will be a phased one, ensuring there won’t be any disruptions to services for patients.
Kier join the fundraising effort
The new £15.5m hospice is being built by Kier, which, having finished the first stage of construction, returned to the site this month.
Not only are Kier staff building the hospice but they also raised £6,658.12 with a 20/20 challenge.
Alison Moorey, St Wilfrid’s CEO, said: “The fact that they wanted to support us as well as build our new home is fantastic.
“Hospice work is all about teamwork and that’s what’s being shown in building our new facility.
“This is something none of us have done before, it’s all new to us but I think when it’s finished it will be something everyone will be enormously proud of what has been achieved.”
Some of the other fundraisers carried out in 2017:
– Bognor Regis Model Railway Club’s show raised £535.
– Charity cricket match, hosted by Rosie Simpson, raised more than £4,000.
– A meal and music at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
– Harbour Voices Community Choir concert, Saturday, January 20, at St Paul’s Church (tickets £5 each).
– Dream Wheelers 100-mile ride around Normandy, France, May 17 to 20.
– To join, or find out how to host your own event, call 01243 214146 or visit www.dreambuilding.org.uk/
What will happen to the redundant site?
It has been marketed by Henry Adams and the charity has been delighted with the amount of interest shown.
The 500-plus St Wilfrid’s volunteers scooped the Observer Community Award for Best Charity/Voluntary Group in December and play a vital role alongside nurses and clinical staff.
Alison said: “We work with people at the most difficult time in their lives and I’m immensely proud of the work done by the staff and volunteers.
“They have a huge impact on patients and their families and they really enjoy their work knowing they are making such a difference.”
With 2018 being the year of the big move, Alison admitted: “Leaving our current home is a big thing for everyone.
“It’s big for me, I have been here for 20 years and many staff have been here for similar amounts of time.
“Staff and volunteers have had family and friends cared for and die here. But I think everyone understands why we have to move, we need a bigger hospice to meet the growing future needs of the area but we also need to recognise the work we have done in the past.”