Friends shop to move to WRVS cafe space in St Richard's Hospital

The Friends have agreed to accept the offer to take on a new location within St Richard's Hospital.

The Friends of Chichester Hospitals after winning an Observer Community Award this week
The Friends of Chichester Hospitals after winning an Observer Community Award this week

The charity will move its base from the main entrance to a new location in the outpatients department, taking over the space vacated by the WRVS Café, which has been forced to close.

The Friends of Chichester Hospitals trustees agreed Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust’s offer at a meeting on Tuesday night, and in a statement said: “Following discussions with WSHFT regarding its offer of an alternative location for the Friends hospital shop when our current main entrance shop has to be vacated early in 2017, the Friends’ trustees met and have agreed to accept the trust’s offer of space in the outpatient entrance to St Richard’s Hospital.

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“The Trust has provided satisfactory assurances regarding the Friends’ principal concerns about security, logistics, accessibility and other matters.

St Richard's Hospital in Chichester, where Costa and other brands will soon be moving in

“The space will be reconfigured to provide modern retail facilities, and to support the ‘lifeline’ ward trolley service, whose survival has been a matter of significant public concern.

“Considerable work will be required to design and build the new shop, and to organise a smooth transition from the existing premises.”

The Friends are having to leave their home of 20 years because of a new contract with the Compass Group, which will see Costa, DeliMarche and other chain retailers move into entrances at St Richard’s, Worthing and Southlands hospitals.

The WRVS has not been offered a new location for the café its volunteers have run for more than 40 years. The shock news recently left some of its volunteers in tears.

The Observer understands that some of the 70-plus Friends volunteers are uneasy at taking over the WRVS site, and that the Friends did not know which site they would be offered when their move was confirmed last month.

The Friends shop remains fully open before it is moved, it is hoped by early spring next year, and the trustees say continuity of service is a ‘top priority’.

“This is an exciting opportunity which will enable the charity and our volunteers to continue offering genuinely friendly, caring service to St Richard’s Hospital and its community,” the trustees said.

David Jones, director of facilities, estates and capital at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We’re very happy that the Friends will be continuing to offer our patients the support they value so highly, and we’re really excited by their enthusiasm for developing services like the ward trollies.

“There are some great opportunities ahead and we look forward to working with the Friends to realise them.”

The last day of service at the WRVS café within the outpatients department will be next Wednesday, December 22.

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