A group of supporters and volunteers from Calderdale have teamed up to support Overgate Hospice in Elland during the Covid-19 outbreak. Over 64 businesses and business people have donated to an appeal, raising over £180,000 since May.
As the impact of the crisis on the Hospice was shared with their supporters, a small group of local business people felt compelled to act to help Overgate through this difficult period. The group of five launched the Corporate Emergency Appeal for Overgate Hospice and set themselves a fundraising target to help bridge the predicted gap in income. They made personal donations to the appeal and asked their business contacts and networks to join them in supporting the Hospice during the pandemic.
Richard Porter, chairman of Halifax-based construction company DD Porter and long-standing supporter of the Hospice, led the Appeal, giving his own time to ensure its success. The other members of the volunteer group are Richard Blackburn, managing director of pib Insurance Brokers, Jessica Collinge, head of customer experience strategy at Yorkshire Water, Chris Bell, founder of B M Howarth Ltd. and John Smith, joint chairman of Smith Brothers Contracting Ltd.
Richard said, “As local people, we know how important Overgate is to our community. Together, with four other businesspeople, we met via Zoom to discuss our concerns about the decline in fundraising income for the Hospice and agreed that we needed to help and help fast! We came up with a simple idea of asking our networks to donate a minimum of £1000, either via their business or privately. We asked people not only to donate, but to reach out to their networks to consider helping as well. Did they know anyone who could also donate? The business community has really pulled together to help Overgate at a time when they really do need it the most.”
Jessica added, “I have seen for myself the amazing care that the hospice provides when my late husband Ollie was cared for at the hospice four years ago. I can’t imagine what things would have been like without the support and quality of care we experienced at a really difficult time in our lives and since then I have become dedicated to supporting the hospice so they can continue to provide this vital care for other families. As we enter the winter months, I worry about the impact of Covid-19 on the number of missed diagnoses of cancer cases meaning that it might be too late for treatment. This will mean more people needing the expert care that Overgate provides so I would urge anyone in the local business community to join us to make sure Overgate can be there for these people, like they were for Ollie and I.”
Janet Cawtheray, Chief Executive of Overgate Hospice said, “This year has been incredibly challenging for everyone, and the loss of income has been a huge concern for the Hospice. In April, we had no idea how long the lockdown would last and how this might affect the care we provide. When the volunteer group launched the Corporate Emergency Appeal we were so grateful for their support but as the Appeal has grown we have been overwhelmed by the number of local businesses who have donated and the amount raised. This money is already making a huge difference to the patients in our care. It has meant we have been able to continue to care for the Calderdale community. It has meant that despite the chaos outside, we have been able to shield them from this and ensure they can live life to the full, to the very end.
"We have been able to launch a virtual Day Hospice, offering vital advice, support and care via Zoom video call. This has been a lifeline for so many local families who rely heavily on their hospice care for social interaction as well as therapies to help them manage the variety of symptoms their illness may cause. Overgate has also been able to share our expertise on end of life care with the wider health and social care system in Calderdale, offering training to care home staff who have had to provide more clinical care during this time than ever before. On behalf of everyone at the Hospice, I would like to say a special thank you to the volunteer group for their loyal and dedicated support and to all of the local businesses and business people who have supported the appeal.”
As new restrictions are enforced and the number of cases continues to rise locally and nationally, the Hospice is facing further uncertainty about their income over the next six months and beyond.
Richard added, “We’ve already raised a fantastic amount since we started the appeal in May, but we know the Hospice needs more support. The impact of Covid-19 is ever present and as we approach the end of the year where so many of us would normally attend the Hospice’s biggest fundraisers such as the Midnight Walk and the annual Ball, we need to show our support now, more than ever”.