More than 50 special guests attended the milestone celebration at the newly purpose-built adult hospice in Priory Crescent, Prittlewell which cared for its first patient on 9th March 2020, replacing the old buildings in Chalkwell Avenue, Westcliff-on-Sea.
Attendees included Deputy Lieutenant of Essex Julie Fosh, Deputy Mayor Cllr Stephen Habermel, Trustees of Havens Hospices, local businesses, staff and volunteers from the charity, all of whom have supported and contributed to the new hospice.
Visitors were also given a tour of the £17.5 million hospice which was mainly paid for by donations. For some, it was the first opportunity to look around since the pandemic restrictions eased. Members of the Care Team were on hand to explain the specialist care they provide and the difference makes to hundreds of local people.
There were speeches from Steve Smith, CEO of Havens Hospices, Ellie Miller, Director of Care, Patron Su Harrison and Sarah Franklin, Assistant Practitioner at Fair Havens, each expressing their gratitude to every single supporter who contributed towards the appeal for the new building.
Sarah Franklin has worked for the charity for 19 years, starting her career at Havens Hospices as a Fundraiser but was so inspired by the care the charity gives, that she went on to train as a healthcare assistant. She has worked in the In-Patient Unit at the hospice ever since.
She said on the day: “I remember the original Fair Havens had carpets on the floor, floral curtains and it had this wonderful homely feel about it. The care we gave was amazing but it also had some really narrow corridors, there were sharp 90-degree bends. All the rooms were slightly different, some were big, and some were small. We used up every single corner in that place.
She continued, “The new Fair Havens does make such a huge difference to families – even things like patients watching television on big screens. Patients can also have a bath whenever they want to – the bath in the old building was downstairs which wasn’t accessible to everyone.
“At the new hospice, we have hosted weddings, first communions, dinners for couples that can’t get out to restaurants. We have been able to do some huge things for our families since being here but for me, it’s the small things that matter. The things some of us take for granted like feeling the sun on our face or walking outside and feeling the wind. If my patient wants to be outside when the time comes, I can push them outside so they can feel the elements on their face. To them, it’s an amazing sensation. It’s things like this, for me that makes this building so incredible.
“I want to say that without you I wouldn’t be standing here today saying ‘thank you’ – thank you for everything you have done, whether it was donating £1 or raising £100,000, whether you have given up an afternoon to volunteer or an hour. I know it’s really tough out there at the moment in this current climate but if you can find it in your heart to keep supporting us, we’ll thank you forever as I don’t know what our community would do without Fair Havens.”
It was highlighted during the evening how far the hospice has come in those two years during unprecedented circumstances. Covid-19 took hold two weeks after the new hospice opened, and within the two years the Care Teams, and those who support them, have faced incredible challenges that not only come with moving an entire healthcare facility but still providing frontline hospice care during a pandemic.
Fair Havens opened all bedrooms immediately to help relieve pressure on local NHS services. Its ‘day hospice’ area – known as the Hub – was leased to help create a safe and accessible place for blood tests. The hospice even reconfigured its ‘Bistro’ area to accommodate a mass-testing programme for all staff and visitors. This helped to detect non-symptomatic cases, protect care staff and allow patients to see their loved ones.
To find out more about Fair Havens and how it is ‘Making every day count’ for local families across Southend, Castle Point and Rochford visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/fairhavens
The specialist care the hospice provides is free of charge thanks to the kind donations from the local community. To make a donation today visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/donation
Published 14th July 2022