Future of hospices at stake as coronavirus pandemic leads to crippling financial crisis

South London’s biggest hospices have been plunged into a crippling financial crisis by the coronavirus pandemic – with Britain’s oldest saying its future is at stake if it cannot raise millions.

The 129-year-old Royal Trinity Hospice, in Clapham, looks likely to be short of £3million, even if fundraising is back to normal within weeks.

And the 53-year-old St Christopher’s Hospice, in Sydenham, is also planning for a colossal shortfall.

Both have had to close their shops, which provide a massive portion of their income. And events which they rely on for public fundraising, such as the London Marathon, have been postponed.

Their staff have also been on the front line of the fight against the disease – putting their own health at risk to help families at a time of trauma and grief.

Royal Trinity Hospice has launched an urgent appeal for funds after the temporary closure last week of its 32 London-based shops and the cancellation of all planned fundraising activities.

The hospice is urging supporters to come to its aid.

More than 200 donors have already contributed since the appeal was launched on Friday, raising more than £40,000 in its first two days.

The charity has been forced to cancel this year’s Wandsworth Friends of Royal Trinity Hospice Summer Garden Party, which last year raised £87,000.

Trinity’s shops, whose income last year brought in £8.5m of the £15 million a  year it costs to run Trinity annually, were closed on Thursday, March 19, for the safety of customers and volunteers.

Chief executive Dallas Pounds said: “The stark reality is that the future of Trinity is at stake.

“We are facing dramatic cuts to the level of support and care we can offer. We are calling on our supporters and those in our local community to help ensure our survival.

“In the coming months, our doctors and nurses will be needed more than ever as the NHS faces the biggest challenge it has ever seen. The population of 750,000 Londoners for whom we are the only provider of specialist end of life and palliative care will need our support and expertise.

“I am overwhelmed at the level of support we have seen. I am appealing to our local community to help us so we can continue to be here for patients and their families for years to come.”

St Christopher`s, which cares for more than 1,000 people in the community every day and up to 38 people on wards in the Sydenham building, has had to suspend many social groups and activities, and limit the visitors to patients.

Care director Amanda Mayo said: “We are humbled and proud that so many of our staff and volunteers are working way above and beyond to ensure that the right care is still there for patients and their families. This is despite trying circumstances and higher than normal levels of staff absence.”

It has also set up support for its own staff and volunteers who may be feeling anxious or worried about the situation.

To donate to Trinity’s appeal, click here

To help St Christopher’s, click here

Pictured top: St Christopher’s Hospice (Picture: Stephen Craven)

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