Jacksons recently announced that the Heart of Kent Hospice was the deserving winner of its Community Challenge, launched in conjunction with the KM Group.

We recently caught up with Vicki Morrey, CEO of the Hospice to find out a little bit more about the role of the hospice in the local community and the reaction to winning the £10,000 make-over  …

What services does the Hospice offer?

The Heart of Kent Hospice provides specialist end of life care for patients and their families living in the heart of Kent.
We can take around fifteen people per day in our Day Therapy Centre and we can have 10 in-patients staying at the Hospice, so in any one-day we could be caring for up to 25 people on the premises. The Day Therapy Centre provides a warm, welcoming, inclusive and supportive environment where patients can not only receive clinical support, but also enjoy complementary therapies, take part in creative activities and have the support and friendship of others faced with a life-limiting illness. Patients that stay at the Hospice are generally admitted to the dedicated ward for symptom control or end of life care. On top of this, the Hospice provides a range of services such as bereavement support, counseling and complementary therapies to carers / families of patients already associated with the Hospice.

The Hospice will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2016 and since its inception, has been extended a number of times in response to patient needs.

How does the Hospice currently fund its activities?

We are reliant on fund raising to cover around 70% of our financial costs and only receive about 28% of the total required to run the Hospice from the NHS.

How does the Hospice source the annual £3M income required to remain operational?
We have a chain of 13 charity shops which are staffed predominantly by our wonderful volunteers, which brings in a good chunk of income.  In addition to this we have a team of fundraisers who are supported by further volunteers, who develop events / work with third parties to raise money.  We are able to secure around £0.5m / year via legacies and also receive funds via ‘in memory’ donations. Finally we run a local lottery and regularly apply to various charitable trusts for further funding.

Why did you enter the Jacksons Community Challenge?

Luckily Annette Feltz, Head of Individual Giving Fundraising is a keen garden designer and she had been liaising with the manager of our Day Therapy Centre to discuss the garden which had become available to the Hospice following the recent purchase of land from the Royal British Legion. The Hospice has been in receipt of a capital Grant from the NHS for the purpose of extending the Day Therapy Centre and to create three new en suite bedrooms.  The Day Therapy extension also provided scope for a garden. The area for the garden is on a slight slope and requires re-landscaping to make it more attractive and more accessible.  We hope to incorporate ramps to enable wheelchair access as well as clear pathways to allow for easier, safer navigation.  The vision extends to including a calming water feature and sensory planting as well as the creation of a few raised beds. The garden will be used by residents who are able to take part in gardening activities under supervision, but will also provide a private contemplative space for patients, carers and visitors to enjoy. We encourage anyone facing a life limiting illness to make the most of their abilities and to achieve the best quality of life available to them, and creating this restful dedicated space is an important part of this. Once the garden makeover is complete, we are confident that we can keep it looking picture perfect courtesy of the fantastic volunteers who work regularly in our other gardens.

When will work start on the garden?

Jacksons has already been out to do a site visit and we are really looking forward to reviewing the designs that are currently being developed by the in-house drawing office.  We plan to have an official opening of the garden in the Autumn!