Thursday, 20 December 2012

Sad loss of charity

Very sad to hear the news this week of the demise of a great little local charity that has helped thousands of people with terminal illness, and their carers, in my home area.

The Beacon of Hope, which ran a hospice-at-home service as well as providing much help, support and respite for carers, has gone into voluntary liquidation with the loss of 17 full and part-time jobs.

The charity was founded in 2000 by retired teacher Elizabeth Murphy. It had offices in Aberystwyth, Cardigan and Machynlleth.

While liquidators PKF, said Beacon of Hope's collapse would have ‘no impact on its patients and they had been placed in health officials' care’ there are also real concerns for the many people who care for relatives with terminal or life-limiting illnesses.

The love, care – and yes, hope – given by the workers and volunteers at Beacon of Hope cannot be replaced.

Mrs Murphy’s  work as founder was recognised in 2008 with an MBE for services to the community in Ceredigion.

PKF said the charity relied heavily on donations and had cashflow problems:

"Whilst Beacon of Hope nursing services were funded by the health authority and the Welsh assembly, its ancillary services were unfunded and relied upon public donations.

"Unfortunately these had proved insufficient to cover the outgoings and, despite a public appeal for donations and the support of the dedicated and hard-working staff, the company's directors were left with no alternative in the face of the resulting insolvency but to place it into liquidation.

"However, in the prevailing economic climate many organisations have suffered, no matter how worthy the cause, and it is regrettable that despite the excellent work being done in Beacon of Hope's name it has had to cease all activities."

The Beacon of Hope was the nominated charity of the Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University for 2012/13.

When the announcement was made earlier this year the charity’s  chair and founder, Elizabeth Murphy said: “Many hospice charities receive support from large industry. There are few large private sector companies based in Ceredigion, and the opportunities for funding are limited. So the announcement that the oldest University in Wales is supporting the smallest hospice in Wales was a great boost to us all.”

Alan Axford, the charity’s voluntary medical adviser said of the Beacon of Hope: “Conventional NHS care is very much focused on the patient and not so much on the carers who often provide support in very difficult circumstances.  Their dedication can mean they become socially isolated and this is where the services provided by Beacon of Hope were so valuable, and the support of organisations such as the University so important.”
The Beacon of Hope  -- and its dedicated and hard working staff and volunteers --will be sadly missed by many.