On Tuesday evening I went to the new Caffyns Volkswagen garage in Worthing where a special reception was being held for the nearby St Barnabas House.
The event was held in Hospice Care Week which aims to promote the wonderful work which charities like St Barnabas and its sister Chestnut Tree House at Angmering do.
This year’s theme is ‘Hospice Care Everywhere’ and St Barnabas was keen to highlight its new ‘Hospice at Home’ service, which gives hands on care and support to patients in their own homes, 24 hours a day.
Many people facing the end of their lives prefer to be in their own homes, and in the past year St Barnabas has enabled this wish for hundreds of patients. This is on top of nearly 1,500 patients who were looked after in St Barnabas’ superb new building, and more than 2,000 who were visited by Community Palliative Care Nurses.
We were shown a very moving new film in which a loving husband explained how St Barnabas had helped to nurse his late wife at home through the difficult last days of her life, and how happy it had made both of them that she was able to stay at home.
Hospices perform such an important service and yet receive very little government support, relying on fundraising from the local community. Between them, Chestnut Tree House and St Barnabas now raise some £15 million a year - a staggering sum. When you think that last year St Barnabas House celebrated its 40th anniversary and Chestnut Tree House its tenth, that is an amazing feat.
The support which St Barnabas receives from individuals, some 800 volunteers, its shops and local groups, such as its tireless friends in Henfield, is quite fantastic. A while ago I joined the charity’s lottery which now raises a fantastic sum for the hospice.
I am proud to be a patron of St Barnabas, and that Chestnut Tree House, which is the only children’s hospice in East and West Sussex, is in my constituency - and of course there are a number of other wonderful hospices in West Sussex which care for local people. Watching the film about St Barnabas’ work, and meeting their staff, was a reminder to me that the people who look after terminally ill patients are truly - to use the description of the bereaved husband in the film - angels.
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