An end-of-life care hospice in Clapham has launched an urgent appeal for donations after its 32 London-based charity shops had to close, leading to a major funding gap during the coronavirus crisis.
Royal Trinity Hospice, which serves communities across South West London, including Wandsworth and parts of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Richmond, predicts a £3 million funding shortfall over the next three months.
Chief Operating Officer, Clare Montagu, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the hospice was in “a fight for survival.”
“Even at the best of times we’re vital. I think in these times even more so. We are daily providing outstanding care to people at some of the most difficult and vulnerable times in their lives, whether they are patients or family members,” she said.
Chief Operating Officer for Royal Trinity Hospice, Clare Montagu
“Like every organisation, all of this has happened very very quickly and we’ve had to react very quickly too.”
Ms Montagu said that after the Prime Minister’s announcement that people should try and work from home, the hospice’s charity shops saw a sharp decline in footfall and staff began to feel unsafe.
“We also heard that the London Marathon was postponed, and with social distancing it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to have any of our fundraising events,” she said.
“A lot of the time in the summer we rely on support from our local community raising money through the marathon or other sports challenges. We have a lot of schools that raise money for us, it’s part of being embedded in our community.
“But of course that has all stopped because people aren’t able to go out or attend events, they aren’t running marathons and schools aren’t in to raise money. Overnight we realised that we were going to lose about 70 per cent of our income.”
One of the charity shops that helps raise funds for the hospice
Last year the annual garden party raised £87,000 for the hospice, while the chain of charity shops made £5.5 million.
It costs £15 million to run the hospice each year, caring for around 2,500 patients with life-limiting conditions and providing them with free palliative care.
It is the oldest hospice in England.
“Only 25 per cent of our income comes from the NHS, so we rely on income from retail, from sales from shops, from fundraising and the generosity of our local community from donations,” said Ms Montagu.
“If that goes, you have to say, we’re desperate.
“We’re doing a lot to try and manage our costs at the moment. We’ve taken the difficult decision to furlough our retail staff, the government scheme that means they can be kept in their jobs and supported by the government funding. We’ve been working with our landlords to defer rent payments and making best use of all the government support, such as deferral of taxes.
“That’s fantastic, that will enable us to live within our means for the duration of the crisis, but it does mean when we start up again, a lot of those deferral of rent payments for our charity shops, for example, will then become due, so we are still facing a significant gap in our finances.
Staff member urging the public to donate to the appeal
“It became clear that we needed to ask our communities for help. We’ve been here for 129 years and we want to go on and be here for another 129 years. But we really are in a fight for survival,” she said.
Ms Montagu was also keen to point out that while many larger national charities are able to furlough staff, the hospice is still providing healthcare, and is part of the crisis response.
She said the hospice is “actively talking” to the NHS about how they can support them, and use beds in different ways if they need additional bed capacity.
“We are also helping the NHS by being able to provide that care and relief, so it’s not a burden to them,” she said.
“We are here to enable people to have the best of whatever life they’ve got left, to have a good death, and to look after those who are left behind. Death, sadly, continues irrespective of what is going on in the outside world.
“In these times there is more anxiety, more distress and sadly more death and we are there to help people. We are needed more than ever because death and anxiety about death is around us all the time, and we can help. Both practically in relieving pressures on the NHS and emotionally in helping family members who are bereaved, experiencing loss, and those patients that are dying.”
So far the hospice has raised over £144,000, but it will need £3 million to cover the funding shortfall.
If you would like to donate visit the hospice’s emergency appeal here: https://www.royaltrinityhospice.london/ ... of-trinity