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Urgent appeal: Help rescue much-loved hospice from financial impact of the pandemic

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 09 June 2020 8:27

Urgent appeal: Help rescue much-loved hospice from financial impact of the pandemic

One of Gloucestershire’s best-loved hospices which cares for adults with life-limiting illnesses has revealed the true extent of its financial woes – and how you can help it. 

With the closure of its charity shops county-wide as a result of the nationwide pandemic lockdown policy Longfield Hospice was faced with a major financial challenge. 

Still currently caring for up to 10 patients a day and supporting an estimated 100 on the telephone the hospice continues to deliver, but has been losing £270,000 a month since income from its retail operations disappeared. 

News that town centres can re-open would be music to its ears – except many of its volunteers who staff the county’s 20 shops are unable to return to work because of the ongoing threat of covid-19. 

The solution, to draft in a new army of willing volunteers to bolster the ranks until the threat subsides – and that is where you can make all the difference. 

Chief Executive Simon Bernstein said: “Longfield Hospice’s total budget for the year 2020-21 is £3.7m. 

“We have been losing around £270,000 per month in funding from the public since the end of March when we had to suspend all face-to-face fundraising events and close all 20 of our shops across Gloucestershire. 

“This figure equates to 87 per cent of our monthly income and is split 65 per cent shops income and 22 per cent fundraising income. 

“Like most charities, Longfield holds reserves for crisis situations, like the one in which the whole country now finds itself."

“At the outset of the pandemic, our reserves were below our policy of three months’ worth of expenditure because of a number of years of very poor legacy income. To address the financial threat to the hospice we launched an Urgent Appeal in early April. 

“Thanks to our incredibly generous supporters and the wider public the Appeal has so far raised £100,000. 

“However, we remain concerned that we will be unable to run physical fundraising events for some time to come and that even when we start opening our shops again, on a phased basis, that the income they generate will be below normal levels. 

“In the face of the crisis, Longfield has adapted its services rapidly to meet the needs of the people of Gloucestershire.

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“We continue to provide Hospice at Home care for people at the end of their lives so they can die in their own homes if they choose. 

“This helps to relieve the pressure on NHS beds at a critical time. We are also providing telephone support to existing and new patients with life-limiting illnesses, their families and carers, who would normally have attended the hospice but cannot currently because of self-isolation regulations and the need to shield due to their or their loved ones’ vulnerabilities.”

Longfield plans a phased opening of its charity shops from June 16. 

Its Stroud store will be the first to welcome back customers followed by the Up Hatherley shop on June 18 and Cheltenham’s Bath Road store on June 19. There will be a staggered approach to opening the rest of its stores in the coming weeks. 

This will give Longfield the time to ensure it is adhering to Government safety and social distancing guidelines and it will be putting the following measures in place to try to minimise the risks for our customers, staff and volunteers. 

Shoppers will be allowed into stores in limited numbers in order to adhere to social distancing measures and all stores are being cleaned thoroughly and regularly. 

Plastic shield guards have been installed on the till point and two metre guidance tape on the floor and at pinch points to ensure people stay 2m apart. 

Items on sale have been quarantined as a precautionary measure for 72 hours before they are steam cleaned and then put out onto the shop floor. 

Changing rooms are currently closed and customers are being asked to only visit us if they feel well, to shop alone and to pay by card or contactless where at possible. 

Donations are not being accepted at the shops currently. 

Ian Cherry, director of Operation, said: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming our loyal customers and donors back to our shops. They will look and feel different, but the stock has been refreshed for our re-opening.” 

Volunteers would be asked to help to keep the shops clean and safe for shoppers, sort donations, help with visual merchandising and stock rotation, drive the Longfield vans to make collections and deliveries and deal with customers. 

If you would like to get involved please complete the volunteer application form on our website or email volunteer.services@longfield.org.uk 

Longfield will be updating its website and social media with the latest store opening dates and donations policy so please visit https://www.longfield.org.uk/find-your-nearest-shop for more information. 


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