A helping hand: We launch our campaign to help Overgate Hospice

Be a hospice hero and volunteer at Overgate.

Today marks the launch of our Helping Hand campaign. The Halifax Courier is shining a light on all the wonderful work that Overgate Hospice does for the Calderdale community, in a bid to help them to continue to fund their services.

Overgate  Hospice staff Sarah Box, Katy Haigh, Val Craven, Alison Goward.

Overgate Hospice staff Sarah Box, Katy Haigh, Val Craven, Alison Goward.

For nearly 40 years, Overgate Hospice has provided vital support for people with life limiting illnesses in the district.

“The thing that makes Overgate special is the love and support that surrounds everything we do here. You can feel it when you first walk in the hospice,” said chief executive Janet Cawtheray.

“I feel very proud and privileged to be heading up an organisation that has a special place in many people’s hearts and to work every day with a dedicated bunch of staff and volunteers who do their very best for our patients and their families.”

All of Overgate’s services are free of charge to people living in Calderdale, meaning that the hospice needs to find £9,700 every day to keep their doors open.

Overgate Hospice in Elland. Photo by Jim Fitton.

Overgate Hospice in Elland. Photo by Jim Fitton.

“We rely heavily on our wonderful community to raise money to ensure the hospice can continue to care for local people. It never ceases to amaze me how much support we have and what our supporters continue to do. We are here because of them and we are proud to serve our community,” said Ms Cawtheray.

The hospice first opened in 1981, after widow Sylvia Graucob donated the upper floor of her family home as an inpatient unit.

Her husband Find died after a battle with cancer in 1979, and with only 60 hospices in the UK, Sylvia saw the need for a hospice offering specialist palliative care in the Calderdale area.

Over the last few years they have introduced a wide range of specialist support services including: a dementia support group, well-being drop-in session, a programme of care for those living with respiratory problems, and a bereavement support groups for families and carers.

Sylvia Graucob outside Overgate.

Sylvia Graucob outside Overgate.

These services are run by their multidisciplinary team of nurses, doctors, therapists, activity coordinators. Their patient and family support team offer social work advice, counselling and physiotherapy services and spiritual support.

Earlier this year they introduced nurse-led care on the inpatient unit, which has allowed them to broaden their care to people with less complex needs.

Their 700 strong team of volunteers provide vital support across all areas of the hospice, from receptionists to therapists to sales assistants in their charity shops.

In 2018/19 34 per cent of Overgate’s patients were discharged. Ms Cawtheray believes that the notion of hospices being a place of death needs to be dispelled.

Chief executive Janet Cawtheray.

Chief executive Janet Cawtheray.

“Overgate is not a place of death, it is full of life and laughter. We always say that we cannot add days to the lives of our patients but we can add life to those days, making the most of the time they have left.

“Patients and families tell us that they were initially frightened about coming in to the hospice but the warm welcome they receive and the support given by our staff and volunteers mean they have no hesitation in coming back.”

In the next few years, Overgate hope to expand their premises, in order to offer help to more people in our region.

In January of this year, they submitted a planning application to build a new sixteen bed inpatient unit within the grounds of the hospice, which received approval in April.

They are currently in the process of planning a capital appeal to raise the funds needed in order to build the new facilities.

“With an ageing population and the number of people forecasted to need specialist end of life care over the next twenty years increasing, it is vital that the services in Calderdale can meet patient and family expectations to die in their preferred place.

“There are still too many people dying in hospital when we know they would prefer to die at home or in another care setting such as the Hospice. Overgate is committed to strengthening community services to ensure this changes.”

Could you volunteer your time or services to Overgate Hospice?

Volunteers play a vital role in the daily running of the Elland hospice, providing an extra level of care for patients, carers and their families and friends.

Their 700 strong team take on roles such as receptionists, fundraisers, drivers, therapists, charity shops assistants and many more crucial roles.

Volunteering for Overgate can also count towards your Duke of Edinburgh award and National Citizen Service.

If you are not able to commit to a regular volunteering role, Overgate are keen for people to help out at events, supermarket bag packs and provide entertainment and workshops for patients and carers.

You must be at least fourteen to volunteer in Overgate’s charity shops, sixteen at the Hospice, eighteen in clinical areas and twenty-five to be a driver.

There is no upper age limit in any of the volunteering roles and younger volunteers are welcome to help at events but under eighteens must be accompanied by an adult.

For more details on which volunteering opportunities are available, visit the Overgate website to download a registration pack, or email info@overgatehospice.nhs.uk or call 01422 379151.

If you would like to donate to Overgate, visit their website or email fundraising@overgatehospice.nhs.uk or call 01422 387121.