By Toby Porter
Hundreds of people saw the opening of a hospice’s new education centre after its launch had been held up by lockdown.
The St Christopher’s Centre for Awareness and Response at End of Life (CARE) threw open its doors on September 30.
The £6.5m education centre is a space for people to explore, discuss and improve everyone’s experiences of living, dying and end-of-life care.
Designed by MillsPower Architecture, the centre is set in the landscaped grounds of St Christopher’s Hospice and has a sustainable three-storey community building, with a lecture theatre, library, skills lab, digital support area, meeting rooms and a roof-top garden.
Many guests knew or had known a previous patient of the hospice, and were keen to show their support and learn about the place that had helped and guided them and their loved ones at the end of life.
There was a leaving party with an on-demand DJ playing everyone’s most meaningful hits, a thought-provoking art exhibition in partnership with the Horniman Museum and Museum of London, and a photo booth complete with props designed to ‘share how you care’.
Visitors also enjoyed arts and crafts activities which encouraged them to reflect on life, death and their experiences living through a global pandemic, from designing squares for a very special Covid quilt organised by the Covid Community Patchwork Quilt group, to painting a stone in the memory of a loved one and making a badge to show that they care.
Children and adults of all ages were also able to get stuck into contributing to a community wall mural supported by artist Richard Tate, and were able to browse the very best second-hand treasures in a pop-up shop created by St Christopher’s high street stores.
Mary Hodgson, community action lead, said “From conversations I had alone I know that we welcomed back people we haven’t seen as an organisation for a while, as well as neighbours from across the road who had never been through the door, and other local people who had no idea what a hospice was or did and who now have some idea.
“So much feedback on the day mentioned how welcome everybody felt, how positive everything was and how lovely the staff and volunteers were, and for me that was such a triumph.
“That is exactly the ethos and atmosphere that we work hard to facilitate here at St Christopher’s, and now that we have St Christopher’s CARE we’re excited to welcome and support even more people in many more ways.”
To find out more about St Christopher’s CARE, including information about future events, visit www.stchristophers.org.uk
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