Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in desperate need of donations to plug £1.1m shortfall

Its dedicated staff and volunteers are respected throughout Leeds for the compassion and care that they show to people facing life-limiting illnesses.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 4:45 pm

And the "wonderful response" to an emergency appeal by Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in April is a reflection of just how much that expert support means to the families who have benefited from it.

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But the charity remains in desperate need of further donations if those valued services are to survive the most challenging year in its history.

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The Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice in Leeds is facing huge financial challenges due the impact of the pandemic. Picture: James Hardisty

Wheatfields director Elaine Hill said: "The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on us. All of our shops closed overnight and our fundraising activities had to stop immediately. This resulted in a deeply concerning drop in income and for the very first time our future was in doubt.

"Unfortunately, our struggle is not yet over. Our fundraising events remain cancelled for the rest of this year, we have no clear indication of how long it will take for our shops to return to normal trading levels and we continue to incur the additional cost of purchasing personal protective equipment for our doctors and nurses.

"As the Prime Minister recently announced, £3bn is being made available in order to support health services in the UK - but this will not include hospices. This means that, even if we are able to avoid a second wave of this dreadful virus, by winter Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice will be struggling again financially."

Founded by Leeds woman Sue Ryder in 1953, the charity that bears her name now runs a national network of hospices and neurological care centres whose services cost £48m a year to keep running.

Elaine Hill is director of the hospice in Headingley, Leeds.

Between them, they provide an incredible 2.2 million hours of free care to thousands of people every year.

Around 135,000 of those hours of support were delivered by the team at Wheatfields in Headingley during 2019, according to the charity.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has been supporting the hospice since 1982 when it first launched its Half and Half appeal in aid of Wheatfields and St Gemma's Hospice in Moortown.

Donations passed the £3m milestone last December, meaning more than £1.5m had been given to each of the hospices over the decades.

Around 135,000 of those hours of support were deliveredby the team atWheatfieldslast year. Picture: James Hardisty

It costs Wheatfields £3.8m per year to keep its doors open though and with its usual fundraising plans in crisis, it announced an emergency appeal three months ago.

Ms Hill said: "We received the most wonderful response to our emergency appeal from the people of Leeds, who have so far raised more than £162,000 for us.

"I would like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt thank you from all of us at Sue Ryder. We are so very grateful for the support you have all shown us."

But just as the families of people with life-limiting conditions have relied on the hospice's doctors, nurses and volunteers in the hardest of times, now the hospice itself is turning to supporters here in Leeds for their help.

The hospice has been supported since 1982 by the Yorkshire Evening Post's Half and Half appeal. Picture: James Hardisty

"Wheatfields Hospice is anticipating a funding gap of £1.1m for the rest of this financial year alone, which is why we still so desperately need the support of our local community," Miss Hill said.

"We know that times are tough for everybody at the moment, so please be reassured that every bit really does help."

Visit sueryder.org/donate to make a donation in support of Wheatfields Hospice and its work.

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