A local hospice organisation says the cost of living crisis is creating a ‘perfect storm’ of circumstances which is putting pressure on the charity.
Havens Hospices includes Fair Havens in Southend and Little Havens – the children’s hospice for Essex – based in Benfleet, plus community and wellbeing care services. The charity featured on BBC Breakfast (Tuesday 5th July) to discuss how price rises in energy, food and staff bills have come at the same time as increased demand for its specialist care and a fall in donations.
Steve Smith, Chief Executive of Havens Hospices, says, “There’s an increased demand for our hospice care. Last year we cared for more than 1,400 patients, a rise of 5.5% from the previous year. In the next 12 months, our energy bills at Fair Havens alone are predicted to rise by 85%, that’s an additional £34,500 that we need to fundraise from our community. We awarded our colleagues a pay increase to acknowledge inflation and the rising cost of living, which means another increase of around £2.7 million a year but was the right thing to do for those choosing to work at the charity.”
Havens Hospices has noticed early signs of a decline in fundraising income. Steve continues, “In terms of general donations, our supporters are still making donations, but of a smaller value which shows that our community still want to do their bit, but they can’t afford to give as much as they have done in the past. Even though we’ve been able to reintroduce fundraising events, fewer people are attending which shows that donors are making choices about how and where they spend their disposable income.
“When we’re having conversations with donors, they’re expressing their sorrow and upset that they have to reduce or stop donating which is heart-breaking because they want to do everything they can, but also need to think about their own household budgets.”
There is no risk to care services at this stage. Steve says, “We were well supported throughout the pandemic by our supporters and the government because of grants secured by Hospice UK. But we can see on the horizon another prolonged period of uncertainty for which we need to start preparing. Our fundraising teams have to work even harder to raise the money needed to keep providing our specialist care.
“This is why we’ve been planning a five-year strategy and investing to diversify our income because we do have to ensure that every donation made to Havens Hospices is best spent on supporting those patients and families who need us most.”
Published 6th July 2022