Hospice Seeks Opinions on Christian Governance

A local charity founded on Christian principles is seeking the thoughts and feelings of the local community as it looks to make a major change to the way it is governed.

Havens Hospices, which includes Fair Havens Hospice, Little Havens Hospice and The J’s Hospice, was founded in the early 1980’s by a group of Christians who wanted to provide better care for people who were dying.

Staff and volunteers do not have to be Christian to work at Havens Hospices, and patients and families are cared for based on their need. The hospices care for patients of all faiths, or those who have no particular faith or religion.

However, it has always been a requirement in the constitution that the Trustees ‘…shall be Christian.’ It is legal to make faith a requirement of becoming a Trustee, if it is seen as being pertinent to the cause. Trustees for the charity hold overall responsibility for its strategy, culture and governance.

The adult hospice opened first in Chalkwell, followed by the children’s hospice which serves the whole of Essex. In 2017, The J’s Hospice – which cares for young adults in the community – joined the charity. All of its care is provided free of charge thanks to the support and generosity of its supporters.

Celebrating and embracing its Christian heritage and foundations have always been important to Havens Hospices with opportunities for prayer, spiritual and chaplaincy support, Thanksgiving and Light up a Life services and these will continue.

Acting Chief Executive of Havens Hospices Trevor Johnson says, “With new Fair Havens on the horizon, and changes in the way we deliver our hospice care, the entire organisation is going through a period of change to help meet the current and future needs of our patients.

“The time has come for us to question whether the requirement for Trustees to declare themselves as Christian is a true reflection of the kind of charity we want to be. We have already started discussions with staff members to explore the issues that this raises. We need voices from all walks of life to ensure that we are hearing and seeing the fullest picture before we make a decision that will impact the future of this organisation.”

The main changes being proposed are:

Change the Articles of Association to remove the requirement that Trustees ‘…shall be Christian’ and Members ‘…should appreciate and support the Christian faith’
Change the legal name from Havens Christian Hospices to Havens Hospices
To replace these requirements, it is proposed that a set of Values are introduced that we hope will be supported and subscribed to by staff, volunteers, Trustees and Members of any faith or none.

Trevor says, “We will always be proud of our Christian heritage and promise it is never forgotten, but at the same time we want to ensure that Havens Hospices is inclusive, welcoming and removes any barriers to people wanting to access our care, make a donation or help us govern the charity.”

The ultimate decision will be made by the Members of Havens Hospices – the equivalent to Shareholders in a business. This position holds a level of responsibility – at each AGM they vote on changes to the charity’s Articles of Association – a type of formal constitution of documents which underpin the entire organisation.

Trevor continues, “We recognise that the issue of faith can be an emotional one, however you identify. There are many reasons why we work for, volunteer and make donations to Havens Hospices, but I hope that we can agree that one of the main motivations is to support a cause that impacts so positively on the lives of local people at one of the most difficult times they’ll ever face.”

To find out more information about Havens Hospices, please click here. [Havens Hospices, which includes Fair Havens Hospice, Little Havens Hospice and The J’s Hospice, was founded in the early 1980’s by a group of Christians who wanted to provide better care for people who were dying.

Staff and volunteers do not have to be Christian to work at Havens Hospices, and patients and families are cared for based on their need. The hospices care for patients of all faiths, or those who have no particular faith or religion.

However, it has always been a requirement in the constitution that the Trustees ‘…shall be Christian.’ It is legal to make faith a requirement of becoming a Trustee, if it is seen as being pertinent to the cause. Trustees for the charity hold overall responsibility for its strategy, culture and governance.

The adult hospice opened first in Chalkwell, followed by the children’s hospice which serves the whole of Essex. In 2017, The J’s Hospice – which cares for young adults in the community – joined the charity. All of its care is provided free of charge thanks to the support and generosity of its supporters.

Celebrating and embracing its Christian heritage and foundations have always been important to Havens Hospices with opportunities for prayer, spiritual and chaplaincy support, Thanksgiving and Light up a Life services and these will continue.

Acting Chief Executive of Havens Hospices Trevor Johnson says, “With new Fair Havens on the horizon, and changes in the way we deliver our hospice care, the entire organisation is going through a period of change to help meet the current and future needs of our patients.

“The time has come for us to question whether the requirement for Trustees to declare themselves as Christian is a true reflection of the kind of charity we want to be. We have already started discussions with staff members to explore the issues that this raises. We need voices from all walks of life to ensure that we are hearing and seeing the fullest picture before we make a decision that will impact the future of this organisation.”

The main changes being proposed are:

Change the Articles of Association to remove the requirement that Trustees ‘…shall be Christian’ and Members ‘…should appreciate and support the Christian faith’
Change the legal name from Havens Christian Hospices to Havens Hospices
To replace these requirements, it is proposed that a set of Values are introduced that we hope will be supported and subscribed to by staff, volunteers, Trustees and Members of any faith or none.

Trevor says, “We will always be proud of our Christian heritage and promise it is never forgotten, but at the same time we want to ensure that Havens Hospices is inclusive, welcoming and removes any barriers to people wanting to access our care, make a donation or help us govern the charity.”

The ultimate decision will be made by the Members of Havens Hospices – the equivalent to Shareholders in a business. This position holds a level of responsibility – at each AGM they vote on changes to the charity’s Articles of Association – a type of formal constitution of documents which underpin the entire organisation.

Trevor continues, “We recognise that the issue of faith can be an emotional one, however you identify. There are many reasons why we work for, volunteer and make donations to Havens Hospices, but I hope that we can agree that one of the main motivations is to support a cause that impacts so positively on the lives of local people at one of the most difficult times they’ll ever face.”

To find out more information about Havens Hospices, please click here. [https://www.havenshospices.org.uk]

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