Crunch meeting on St Wilfrid’s Hospice future approaches

A HOSPICE that says its current home is ‘no longer fit for purpose’ faces a vital meeting on its future this week.

Artist impression of the Stable Visual - Inpatient Unit of St Wilfrid's Hospice plans to move to Bosham.
Artist impression of the Stable Visual - Inpatient Unit of St Wilfrid's Hospice plans to move to Bosham.

Currently situated in Donnington, near Chichester, the existing hospice building needs substantial work doing to it, according to St Wilfrid’s.

Speaking in May, chairwoman of the trustees Angela Wormald said: “The growing demand for our services is constrained by the limitations of an aging building in urgent need of modernisation.

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“At any one time our staff may be caring for up to 230 patients as well as providing support to their family and friends.

“This puts a huge pressure on the limited facilities we are working with on our current site and consequently the quality and levels of care we are striving to offer are under threat.”

Staying at the Donnington site is no longer an option, according to St Wilfrid’s Hospice.

To repair and refurbish its current building would cost at least £6m and would still only secure its future for a further ten years.

Furthermore, it would not give the hospice any of the extra facilities to support more patients and develop its services to meet the growing and changing needs of the local community.

“In addition, it would be impractical to undertake this extensive level of work with patients in situ and place unnecessary pressure on the delivery of our services,” said a statement from the hospice when the proposed move was announced.”

St Wilfrid’s has hoped that it will be able to sell and demolish its current hospice when a replacement is built, allowing the land to be used for 21 homes.

The plans indicate a mix of semi-detached and terraced, two-storey houses in three locations on the site. They had been earmarked as seven two-bedroom, 11 three-bedroom and three four-bedroom houses.

The plan to demolish the old hospice and build the new homes will be discussed at November 11’s planning committee, along with the potential new hospice in Bosham.

Officers recommended the former scheme be approved, despite concerns from Donnington Parish Council, but are recommending refusal on the Bosham site.

Community fundraising

A SUBSTANTIAL sum of money needs investing in St Wilfrid’s Hospice to allow it to continue at its current level, if not beyond it.

Whether it is £12m on a new building or investing heavily in the short-term on the current building, money will have to be spent.

An invaluable branch of St Wilfrid’s fundraising arm is the support groups, based throughout the area.

The groups, which have hubs as far afield as Barnham, Southbourne and Arundel, hold several fundraising drives in their communities – all of which help boost the hospice.

In April, the Observer featured a number of the keen volunteers who had been drawn to help the hospice in one way or another.

However, the groups all had an important message: for the hospice to continue it need people to step up and support it.

“Five years ago, support groups were raising £100,000 each year for the hospice,” Julie Longman, the hospice’s events and community manager, told the Observer at this point.

“The last three years that’s gradually declined to £60,000 at the end of the last year.”

While £60,000 is a huge amount to have raised, it is still a 40-per-cent decrease on five years ago and with cuts in government funding, the hospice is even more reliant on people’s generosity now than ever before.

The recent colour run through Chichester in aid of St Wilfrid’s Hospice managed to raise in the region of £30,000 for the hospice and it is this and other events, such as the Moonlight Walk, that help raise thousands to help St Wilfrid’s continue offering all its services to help the community.

The hospice had been hoping to hear a result on its planning application by the end of September, however it has taken until the November planning meeting for its fate to be decided.

“If granted, raising the funds to build the new hospice will be our next big challenge,” said the hospice when it first announced its plans earlier this year.

Built in 1987, it is now in its 28th year.

“We are going to need the support of the community – just as we did 30 years ago,” added the hospice when it spoke of future fundraising.

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