Wigan and Leigh Hospice has to find a colossal £5m each year to run, but a leap year brings the added pressure of another 24 hours to be funded.
And that is where the Wigan Observer’s latest campaign is stepping in.
Helping Hand is seeking to raise the £10,000 Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) will need to get through the additional 366th day which comes around once every four years.
With demand for the services offered at its state-of-the-art headquarters on Kildare Street in Hindley and in patients’ own homes across the borough, February 29 raising its head means more cash heading out of WLH’s coffers to provide the care and treatment residents with life-limiting illnesses need along with the vital support for their loved ones.
Fortunately, help is at hand. WLH is one of the borough’s most popular charities, with scores of fund-raising events to help it taking place in Wigan every year and thousands of residents joining in popular appeals such as Light For A Life.
It is that public support which the Observer is now hoping to channel, asking generous Wiganers to chip in and provide the funds it needs to pay its way on the extra day next year.
The drive on behalf of the charity has been warmly welcomed by the hospice, which set out clearly the financial challenges it faces.
Dr Alan Baron, WLH chief executive, said: “I’d like to thank the Wigan Observer for its support over the years and for launching this campaign on behalf of the patients, families, volunteers and staff at Wigan and Leigh Hospice.
“Even though we are a charity, the hospice delivers a key NHS service and costs over £5m every year to run. We are looking after more and more patients every year, facing the challenge of caring for people who are often suffering from more than one life-limiting condition.
“The hospice provides excellent care for people who have been diagnosed with incurable, progressive illnesses and I feel privileged to work here.
“In the last 12 months alone our community nursing teams made 6,000 visits to patients living in their own homes across the borough. In the hospice building, we cared for over 250 patients on our beautiful inpatient unit and have provided counselling, complementary therapy, a day service and bereavement support to patients and their loved ones.
“Our hospice building in Hindley is a fantastic facility which belongs to the people of Wigan and Leigh and they should be proud of what together we have achieved over almost four decades of care.
“We receive less than a third of our running costs from the NHS and without the support of our wonderful local community we simply wouldn’t be here.
“Raising income is a challenge for most hospices. Eight in ten (82 per cent) of charitable hospices surveyed by Hospice UK say they are planning a deficit budget this financial year.
“This is why the ‘Pay for a Day’ campaign is so important. We need to raise almost £10,000 every day to ensure we can continue providing our specialist care and to ensure that the hospice is here for future generations.”
The numbers show the scale of the job done by the hospice, whose paid staff are supported by a kind-hearted army of more than 600 volunteers filling around 30 roles, including being entirely responsible for staffing its network of charity shops in the borough.
As well as the patient numbers highlighted by Dr Baron the hospice supported 632 carers, helped 206 people through the difficult days of bereavement and offered 183 people professional counselling between September 2018 and September 2019.
Donations of any size are gratefully received, with £10 providing materials for a creative therapy session which gives the participant a project to focus on and a sense of achievement.
Giving £32 provides a uniform for a nurse, while £36 pays for a session of complementary therapy and £50 means a Hospice in your Home nurse can visit a patient living with an incurable
A counselling session for a patient or carer costs £62 while 24 hours of care on the in-patient unit for one person comes in at a massive