Hurrah for charity shops! I was in the Helen and Douglas House Hospice shop in Chipping Norton on Saturday - the top performing of the 30 plus shops the Hospice runs! Well supplied by the "Chipping Norton set" its a rather good place to secure some up market goods at reasonable prices. A Paul Smith suit in the window didn't fit, but a bargain at £150. Get there quick! Of course, I'm not sure I'd actually want to know if the splendid tweed jacket I bought was from Jeremy Clarkson but perhaps it was a Cameron cast off? They are both big supporters of the Hospice.
As indeed am I; I was persuaded by Angela, the Manager of the Chipping shop, to put up for a trustee position and I was appointed a trustee about 6 months ago. I thought it would do me good to see governance from the other side, so to speak. I've now been at 3 trustee meetings and found it all very revealing. There are challenges yes, but also opportunities for growth. This was the very first children's hospice in the world, founded by the All Saints Sisters of the Poor. In fact an interesting link for me because this Anglican order of nuns was set up in the Church I attend in London; All Saints, Margaret St, Buttterfield's masterpiece. Once a very great order of nuns, it has declined, as have most of the religious houses. They moved from Margaret St some time back and the mother house is now in Oxford. The Helen House Hospice was established in the grounds of the convent, and later they built a Hospice (Douglas House) for younger adults when they found that the sick children they were caring for were living longer .
A number of us met the founder, Sister Frances last week to hear her account of the establishment. What I thought interesting was the opposition from the medical establishment of the time to the set up of the hospice. The view of the consultants and management was that the care of dying children was the NHS responsibility and they should be in charge. What they missed was patient and family choice. It's sad that so often doctors don't always understand that care is sometimes so much better at home or in a hospice. We have now thankfully moved on considerably and there are few now who don't understand the power and relevance of the hospice movement.
There are however interesting parallels with the debate on A+E and the work that the Red Cross, RVS and Age UK have been doing in supporting frail elderly in casualty. At our recent Hustings, the Greens and UKIP said we don't want volunteers in hospitals doing this work- it should be done by the NHS. Of course I don't blame them for saying this; it was based on ignorance of what the sector does (fortunately Wilson and Nandy are very supportive). There is no doubt we will see a greater partnership between sector and state develop over the years to come. Both main Parties are making strong offerings on the NHS. Cameron was good on the role of charities in his TV "debate" appearance and Burnham has explicitly made a clear offer for our sector. If we are to have a 7 day a week health service (and we certainly need one!) then the role of the third sector must expand. Our unique offer of paid staff and professional volunteers is just what is needed.
But back to the Hospice, the world of this movement is changing. We have some interesting developments in providing high quality care at home which helps families to manage better and respite care is playing a bigger role. But still, far too many people die in a hospital bed when they want to die at home or in the loving environment of a hospice; where your family can stay with you, you can bring your dog and have more influence over the care and environment you are in.
And finally, for ACEVO members we are doing a survey today to inform the work of the Low Commission on better regulation. We want views particularly on the Charity Commission, who have taken some very controversial decisions of late, which has caused much concern in the sector; not just around Muslim charities. So if you are a member do respond to the survey!!
So now we look forward to Easter. I was at Palm Sunday 8am Mass this morning (somewhat early given the clocks going forward). Our Parish is soon to acquire a new Vicar; a woman who once lived in Charlbury as it happens. She takes over the living in June.