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Q&A - Naomi House Hospice

04 January 2021

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Lifestory has been donating facemasks to support local support groups across our communities in Babbacombe, Marlborough, Wimborne, Winchester, Poole and the New Forest to help with fundraising effort through the pandemic.

 One of these groups is Naomi House Hospice, we caught up with Lisa Congdon, Corporate Fundraiser a to hear more about the work they do to support those in need in the Winchester community.

 

Can you tell us a bit more Naomi House and how it was established?  

Naomi House & Jacksplace first opened its doors to our families in 1997, the need for a children’s hospice within our area was recognised greatly and with the will and support of the community Naomi House, our children’s hospice, was ready to serve those families that needed it most. The land we are built on in Sutton Scotney holds a very special story to our cause. When we had approached the land owner, Mary Cornelius-Reid, she kindly said we could use it but under two conditions. The first, was that we had to name the hospice after her youngest daughter, Naomi. The second was that we had to pay a rent, this was no ordinary rent that you would expect to pay. The rent is 12 red roses, and still to this day we pay and present them every midsummer’s day, now to Naomi Cornelius-Reid.

Jacksplace, our young adult’s hospice, was built slightly later in 2010. With the advances in medicine and technology children with life-limiting conditions were living longer, which is obviously amazing. However, there sadly aren’t many young adult specific hospices in the country meaning that once our children have passed the age of 16, they either have to travel a great distance, or use the services of an adult hospice. Jacksplace creates an age-appropriate environment for our 16-35 year olds where they can have independence, make friends and have the opportunities every young adult should have.

 What services does the hospice offer?

 Our main service that we offer is respite, each family eligible for our services has access to 16 nights of charitable respite each year. This gives them that precious time together where they can forget about care and medication and focus solely on being a family again. This could be something as simple as a sit-down meal together in our diner or maybe even a first family swim in our Hydrotherapy pool.

 We also offer end of life care and have two dedicated bereavement suites in each hospice, Butterfly and Ocean. These suites allow our families to have extra time with their loved one after they have passed, giving that child or young adult the dignified ending that they deserve. We have an amazing family support team who are on hand to help and offer any support needed at what is an extremely tough time.

 Our other services that we offer include sibling support as well support for the entire family, community support and emergency respite care.

 How has the pandemic affected Naomi House?

 Right at the beginning of the pandemic the difficult decision was made to close our hospices, the safety of our children and young adults is paramount and we of course couldn’t encourage socialising of any kind. Although this is was a difficult decision, we were then able to offer 6 of our beds from Jacksplace to nearby hospitals to elderly patients, these patients were asymptomatic,not known to have Covid and were nearly ready for discharge. This then freed up beds for those hospitals to use in the fight against the virus. 

 In terms of fundraising, we are around 40% down on where we had expected to be this year. This is largely due to almost all our events being cancelled and postponed. So far, we have only managed to hold two physical events, our Clarendon Way Walk and our Firewalk. We would usually have around 12 events as well as events hosted by our corporate and community groups.

 How can others help support your work in the community?

 One way in which people can help support Naomi House & Jacksplace would be by signing up to our events which can be found on our website  - https://www.naomihouse.org.uk/events.For example, come and join us on 22nd of December as we host an ‘Evening of Christmas Spirit’ live from the hospices. This unique event is online and will feature musical performances, readings from local artists including one very special reading from Julian Fellowes. We also have Brit Award winning vocal group; Blake who will wow viewers with a very special performance with the spirit of Christmas and the community at the very heart.

 Individuals or groups may also feel like they want to actually host their own events. Maybe that’s a golf day, bake sale or whatever idea you have! Another way could be donating clothes, books or toys to our shops. These can also be used to sell and raise vital funds for our much-needed services

 What is your role at the hospice?

 My role at the hospice is a fundraising assistant, prior to Naomi House & Jacksplace I had no charity experience and this role specifically allowed me to spend 6 months in each fundraising department. This has given me the opportunity and time to learn not only about our hospices but the different areas of fundraising that exist.

 What do you enjoy the most about your role?

 For me, my favourite part of the job is speaking with our supporters and hearing all their stories on why they have chosen to support our hospices. Pre-lockdown we were also able to tour small groups around the hospices, this is something I absolutely loved to do, it’s such a unique opportunity for our supporters to see our facilities and as you can imagine it is often inspiring.

 Have you sold any masks yet?

 So what we have been doing for our families as they aren’t able to visit is creating a ‘Taste of Naomi House’ bag of goodies, which we are currently hand delivering, taking all precautions of course. These bags are made up of goodies from our fantastic supporters, including the wonderful team at Lifestory! We have placed these facemasks in these bags so that our families can use them! We are beyond grateful for this support which will enable us to spread some Christmas joy to our families!

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 Pegasus Winchester Holts is a collection of 33 age exclusive one-,two- and three- bedroom apartments in quaint Winchester in close proximity to the city’s amenities. For more information, call the team on 01962 418 059 or email [email protected]