A day hospice that brings cheer and comfort to hundreds of people is in danger of closing due to lack of funding.
Bedford Daycare Hospice, after 25 years of serving the community, has had its funding cut completely this year by health bosses at the local Clinical Commissioning Group.
This leaves volunteers with the daunting task of raising the necessary £250,000 a year needed to keep the Linden Road premises open and running.
“Closure will definitely be a possibility if we do not find ways to raise this money,” said fundraising manager Jinny Shoosmith.
Ironically the hospice saves the NHS huge sums every year by providing daytime nursing care, therapy, entertainment and food for patients with life-limiting illnesses.
“For many of them, if they could not come to us they would have to be admitted to hospital – and that would cost considerably more,” said Jinny.
The clients at the daycare hospice, which runs as an independent charity, enjoy holistic treatments, including Reiki and massage, a three course lunch, afternoon tea, a Butterfly Boutique, games, activities and gossip.
It gives them a chance to enjoy a change of scene and company, and it gives their carers some much-appreciated respite.
“Away from the clinical environment the patient can just be themselves in a safe place where the focus is on living,” said Jinny.
The hospice provides a full range of services for clients including access to a registered nurse on every visit to review pain.
They also offer psychological care, counselling in a confidential setting, and peer support and information sharing with others in a similar situation.
There is a cancer education programme for those at various stages of their cancer journey and complementary therapy to promote relaxation.
Other services include chair-based exercises and relaxation sessions, outreach clinics, and a Ways Ahead advice for those experiencing hair loss.
The hospice also runs a Cancer Support Group, which meets on alternate Wednesdays between 1.30pm and 3.30pm.
For years the hospice volunteers have been raising a large chunk of the running costs themselves.
The latest withdrawal of CCG funding means they are now faced with the task of generating tens of thousands extra cash each year.
This week the hospice has this week put out a desperate plea for more help.
They need volunteers, people with fundraising ideas and also local companies willing to offer sponsorship.
They already have three charity shops, two in Kempston and one in Biggleswade, where donations and help are always welcome.
They also run fundraising coffee mornings, curry nights and river cruises.
Complementary therapists, drivers and gardeners willing to donate their services for free are always very welcome. On Thursday April 26 the hospice is holding a special open day to raise awareness of what it does and to recruit more volunteers.
They are this week sending out invitations to the MP, the mayor and other local dignitaries to attend.
Anybody interesting in helping can attend the open day. E mail info@ bdc-hospice.org.uk for more details, or contact the team on 01234 352015.