Debbie’s Diary August 2020

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Tough times but plenty of positives at the Butterwick

Continuing the series of monthly updates from the Chief Executive of Butterwick Hospice Care, Debbie Jones

WE continue to live through challenging times and the pandemic has certainly had a major impact on the charity sector.

That said, it’s important to keep underlining the positives and I’m delighted to be able to confirm that the children’s unit has been back open for a month now and is providing the kind of dedicated respite care the Butterwick has always been known for.

The unit had to close for a while because the children were shielding, but the easing of restrictions has allowed us to reopen and that’s really good news.

It’s lovely to have the children who need our help back with us again, and enjoying activities such as being taken out to the shops and settling in for a cosy cinema night.

The children’s parents have obviously had a tough time during lockdown so it’s nice to be able to give them a break too.

WE have so many reasons to be grateful and I’d like to say a massive thanks to everyone who has donated facemasks, visors and scrubs for use by the hospice team.

For example, 10,000 facemasks were donated by B&Q, which was a huge boost because it means we can spend vital funds in other areas.

We are also indebted to the North East Maskteers  organisation for making and donating colourful facemasks and scrubs that have really brightened the place up.

The local community has been fantastic in supporting us in all kinds of ways, donating items such as hand sanitiser and gels, as well as money. It really is appreciated.

However, the need for help never stops and we desperately need volunteers in our shops at the moment.

The shops account for a huge proportion of our revenue. We have 12 altogether and nine of them are currently open, so we’d love to hear from anyone who can spare any time at all.

The shops were closed for five months during the lockdown, so we’ve taken a big financial hit. Please get in touch if you can help us start to recoup some of those losses.

Meanwhile, we are looking forward to the voluntary services department coming back from furlough next month.

I’m thrilled that we have been able to announce some exciting additions to our team in recent weeks.

Sarah Clarke has joined us as Director of Care, and it really is a lovely story because she’s from this area and did part of her nursing training with us 20 years ago.

Sarah is working her notice as Deputy Director of Nursing for Operating Services and Critical Care with the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and joins us on September 15. It’s lovely to see the wheel turn full circle.

A warm welcome also to Rebekah Gullett who is joining us on September 11 as Clinical Sister For Adult In-Patient Services.

Sarah and Rebekah bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the Butterwick and it’s an exciting time for all of us.

We had some lovely publicity recently in response to Stephen Thompson announcing that he is running the Virtual Great North Run to raise money for the Butterwick in memory of his father-in-law Paul Saunders.

Paul was cared for in the Butterwick last year and his wish was to be able to walk his daughter, Rebecca, up the aisle. That wasn’t going to be possible under normal circumstances, but the staff pulled together to arrange the wedding in the hospice chapel at Stockton.

The wedding was really beautiful and Paul got his wish just nine days before he passed away.

As a thank you, Stephen is running a half-marathon on September 13 when his route will take him past some of the places that were special to Paul. They include his favourite pub, The Unicorn, in Norton – hopefully, Stephen will be able to resist popping in for a swift pint!

On a serious note, the Great North Run usually generates £50,000 for us and that’s a big hole to fill, so please get in touch with our fundraising team if anyone fancies following Stephen’s wonderful example. Email us at [email protected]