Walking from the car park to my new office at St Catherine’s Hospice, I felt a sense of calm – and also excitement.
Across the footbridge over the river, past the beautiful sensory garden and towards the welcoming hospice entrance, where reception staff greeted me with kind smiles and encouraging words, I knew my instincts were right – this is a special place to work.
I’ve joined the communications team which will involve working with the media, such as newspapers and radio, to promote the work of the charity, from fundraising campaigns and events, to volunteer opportunities, and inspiring stories from patients and their families.
The hospice and The Mill café also have dedicated social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter, so I’ll be using those channels to keep supporters updated (and hopefully attract new followers) as well as uploading content to the website and writing this blog.
I’ll also be out and about in community and would love to hear from anyone who has any hospice-related news or stories to share with me.
I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks now, but I’m settling in and learning the ropes.
There’s a lot to take in – I’ve been lost a couple of times around the building, which is somewhat of a rabbit warren, and I’m having to remember so many new faces and names, but it’s been a great start.
I think people may be surprised to learn how much the charity actually does. It’s not just about the 19-bed in-patient unit – there’s also day therapy, specialist care at home, family support, and so much more.
There’s also a variety of departments making up a 170-strong workforce to keep the wheels in motion, from fundraising and finance, to retail and catering. And of course, there are experienced nurses, consultants, doctors, occupational and physiotherapists specialising in palliative care.
I’m hoping to use this column as an opportunity to tell you more about the work of the charity over the coming months, and to give you an insight into all of the hard work which goes into running the hospice through its dedicated supporters, staff and army of around 600 volunteers.
Speaking of volunteers, we’re on the lookout for volunteer cafe assistants to work in The Mill café, which is a separate building from the hospice and is open to the public. It’s in the hospice grounds – now called St Catherine’s Park – and raises money for the charity, and we’re keen to recruit more volunteers to work behind the counter, serve food, and operate the till.
I’ve been raving about The Mill for the last year or so to anyone who will listen, so I’m not being bias when I say it’s a fantastic place. And I know loads of people who agree with me; the setting is beautiful, the staff brilliant, and the food (speaking as a real foodie) is top notch! If you haven’t tried it already, please come along and see for yourself how amazing it is.
One part of the job I’m really looking forward to is promoting the further development of St Catherine’s Park. Work is underway to enhance the space further, connecting it to neighbouring council-owned land leading to the new war memorial and peace garden in the Dandy Brook area.
I’ll keep you posted about that, but my first task is getting involved in two major fundraising events.
St Catherine’s is the official charity partner in a brand new event called the Wiggle Four Counties Cycle Ride. There’s a 100-mile or 82-mile route to choose from, both starting and finishing in Bamber Bridge on May 15, taking in parts of Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester.
And an event which will appeal more to the whole family is the hospice’s own Moonlight and Memories Walk, which this year is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
We’re really keen for people to start signing up now, to take part in either the four-mile or 10-mile option, both starting and finishing at the hospice in Lostock Lane and going through Bamber Bridge, Preston, and Penwortham.
It will be held from 10pm on June 4, and we’re really hoping to beat last year’s numbers of nearly 1,000 walkers. It’s a very special event where people come together to remember loved ones whilst having fun and making a difference to the charity, so I’m looking forward to going along and hearing people’s inspirational stories on the night.
To find out more about volunteering opportunities or signing up for fundraising events, please visit www.stcatherines.co.uk/volunteering, or www.stcatherines.co.uk/events, or call 01772 629171.
You can contact me directly by emailing email@example.com or finding me on Twitter @MissHospiceNews.
– You can also read a newspaper column by Kay in this week’s Leyland Guardian.