27 May 2022

Vital service has become a part of life in the North West

Generous support of the public has helped change the lives of thousands

Vital service has become a part of life in the North West

Hospice community fundraiser officer, Ailbhe Temple, with two young fundraisers. Ailbhe Temple, centre, Community Fundraising Officer

Foyle Hospice has been a vital part of life in Derry City and the surrounding areas since the mid-1980s.

The care and services that Foyle Hospice delivers have impacted thousands of lives. Of course, Foyle Hospice requires a huge level of support from the community to deliver those services and employ 92 staff.
A volunteer team of over 500 people also supports the hospice in everything from gardening to counselling.
Foyle Hospice costs approximately £3.2 million a year to run and just 30% of its total running costs come from the Health and Social Care Board.
Foyle Hospice has five shops in Waterloo Place, Springtown, Limavady, Strabane and Castlederg.  The shops were revamped over two years ago as Loved and Cherished and are a big part of the fundraising accounting for almost £250,000 in net income.
The profile of the shops is helped by an annual Ladies Lunch and Vintage Fashion Fair, which has featured guests such as Phil Coulter, Miriam O’Callaghan, James Nesbitt and Nadine Coyle, Jackie McMonagle, the shops area manager says.
“It showcases all the shops’ clothes and provides a great platform for the shops. It’s a hugely successful event.
“When I joined nine years ago we only had three shops and now we have five. The outlet in Springtown Industrial estate is phenomenal - it is non-stop. We opened that five years ago. That is the hub where everything comes for sorting and distribution to the other shops but we decided to open it up to the public.”
Christmas fundraising
Christmas is a busy time for the hospice fundraising team with annual events such as Lights of Love where people can sponsor lights on a large Christmas tree at the hospice which is provided by Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Hampers are also a big part of the hospice’s fundraising at this time of year. Pauline McGuinness, a volunteer, helps prepare 200 Christmas hampers to go out to shops and businesses across the north-west for a draw with each one raising about £100. 
“This is an old-fashioned fundraiser,” community fundraising officer Ailbhe Temple says. 
“It’s a big fundraiser for us. We go out at Christmas and Easter with 200 hampers and do a few Halloween ones as well.”
Coin Hunt 
Hundreds of collection boxes are part of the hospice’s fundraising activity.
The Coin Hunt boxes are emptied at the Fundraising Centre and counted five days a week.  A total of over £160,000 in coins was counted last year.
A reduction in loose change due to the increase in card transactions has seen a drop in the income from the coin boxes, Damien Brown who counts the coins says.  
“It used to be over £200,000. We are aware that more and more people are going cashless and are looking at ways how we might best address that to ensure continued support,” he said.
Unique service
The importance of fundraising to the hospice is that it allows it to provide the unique service it does, Ailbhe Temple, Community Fundraising Officer
says, not just in terms of specialised medical care but the time and attention patients get.
“We have time here. Our nurses have time to speak to patients, time to spend with patients and time to spend with family members. That is an important part of what we do, especially at end of life when you are not going to get it back again. Our focus is the patient and that the patient's needs are met.”
Those needs have included the hosting of a number of weddings for patients and providing whatever home comforts they desire.
“It’s about making people comfortable at that time because it is such a difficult time. It’s a nice place and everyone can get involved in the care. It’s not just medical, medical, medical.”
The funding comes from weekly draws, the shops, coin hunt, male and female walks and fundraising events like the London Marathon, the Great North Run and other local events and donations.
Fundraising is getting more difficult in terms of events, Ailbhe says.
“I think it goes back to the fact that so much goes on in the city. It is a struggle to raise money and we are always trying to think of something different but not too different because you want people to get involved. 
“But the people of Derry and Strabane and the surrounding areas are amazing.
“We get over £2m a year and if we didn’t have that support, we would not be here and would not be able to support the 17,000 patients we have supported in the last 35 years.”   

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