Overgate Hospice was given to the people of Calderdale in an exceptional act of goodwill - now, in turn, it needs the goodwill of the people of Calderdale to keep it running.
The hospice, founded in Elland more than 30 years ago, needs to raise £6,700 a day to continue its service to the people of Calderdale.
And tapping into the area’s business community is an essential part of its fund-raising effort. Settling in to her new role as corporate consultant, Michelle Taylor is determined to raise the profile of the hospice and make Overgate the first port of call when businesses are looking for charities to support.
Michelle, who runs her own wedding and events planning business, is spending one day a week working for the hospice. Her role has been sponsored for a year and she is determined to make the most of her time and energy to give Overgate a boost in Calderdale’s corporate world.
“I understand that it’s not been an easy time for businesses and it’s true that other charities such as Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice - which do a fantastic job - are also competing for the support and the money of Calderdale businesses.
“My job is to get across the message that helping the local hospice need not cost businesses a fortune - there are so many ways they can help us and make a difference.”
Michelle points out that corporate membership costs just £120 a year - or £10 a month to businesses that prefer to pay that way.
“Businesses can help in so many ways - from having a collection box on their counter to staff giving their tips. Businesses can hold a ‘donate day’ every so often where employees bring in old clothes and books from home to go to Overgate charity shops or they can donate old printer ink cartridges for us to recycle - it’s amazing how much can be raised in this way, and we will collect them!”
Corporate members are also encouraged to support the hospice’s big fund-raisers - events such as the Midnight Walk, held at the weekend, Sportsman’s Dinner or annual Garden Party.
“We have just started holding special evenings to enable small groups of our corporate members to come along and see inside the hospice. It’s surprising to find that some our keenest supporters have never been inside the place!
“We wanted to give them the chance to have a look round the day hospice and hear about the work we do. So far this has been really successful - it has helped to raise the profile of the hospice and show people where the mo ney goes. It makes it seem more real.”
As Michelle points out most people in Calderdale have heard about the hospice, know of its work and regard it as their ‘local’ charity.
“But we can’t stand still and take people’s support for granted. There is a great deal of goodwill towards Overgate but we really want people to think of us first when they are planning a charity event or considering making a donation.”
The day hospice at Overgate opened in 2011 - now there are plans to upgrade the main reception area.
“We are constantly moving forward and improving our service but the fact remains that it all has to be paid for. The staff here do a fabulous job but to enable them to do that for the people who need us we constantly need to raise money.
“I am confident there is a lot of untapped potential in the business community in Calderdale and during my year I am looking forward to working with as many of them as possible and getting businesses on board.”
Michelle, who is 51 and lives in Halifax, runs Taylored Elegance.
“My heart is in Overgate. Vounteering has always been important to me but Overgate is a very special place.”
So special in fact that Michelle is planning to overcome her paralysing fear of heights to do a sponsored skydive to raise funds next year.
* Overgate Hospice was founded by Sylvia Graucob and opened in 1981. At the time it was one of very few hospices in the whole country.
* It costs £3.1 million a year to run Overgate Hospice. £600,000 (20 per cent of total running costs) comes in grants from the NHS. The balance of £2.5 million comes from donations.
* For every £1 donated to support Overgate Hospice, 79p is spent on direct patient care.
* Anyone wanting to help can contact Michelle on 07780 337376 or corporate fundraiser Jo Sygrove on 01422 379151.