Lack of physical money hits coin hunts as hospice plans to expand

One of Derry’s most cherished institutions, the Foyle Hospice, is to expand its Culmore facility despite new challenges to the fundraising drives that have sustained the palliative care centre for decades.

Sunday, 27th January 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 6:54 pm
Foyle Hospice, Culmore Road, Derry. DER4614MC085

Donall Henderson, Chief Executive of the Foyle Hospice, told members of Derry City & Strabane District Council it wants to grow from a 10 bed to a 12 bed facility. This, he said, will mean the creation of two new rooms for the centre on the Culmore Road.

It also intends expanding community nursing cover from five days per week to seven days per week.

All of this is outlined in the Foyle Hospice’s ‘Strategic Plan 2018-2021’, which was presented to the DC&SDC Health & Community Committee by Mr. Henderson this month.

Councillors heard how dependant the hospice was on the fundraising efforts of the people of the North West.

For example, Mr. Henderson explained that 70 per cent of the hospice’s running costs were met by the generosity of the local community.

In recent years, however, a long-standing staple of Foyle Hospice fundraising, it’s annual ‘coin hunt’ has suffered somewhat from a distinctly 21st century problem: people are carrying less hard cash.

Mr. Henderson said that this year £124,000 - a significant sum - has been raised via the Foyle Hospice’s coin collection.

But three or four years ago, he acknowledged, the hospice would have been raising somewhere between £160,000 and £180,0000 per year.

“We don’t think that that is for any other reason than people don’t have physical coins anymore,” he said.

The Foyle Hospice director explained that it had a number of strategic priorities for the centre that employs 66.5 (full time equivalent) people and relies on the time and energy of over 500 volunteers from across the local community.

Mr. Henderson said its first priority was to improve its high quality of care and support. The two new rooms and extension of its community nursing capacity form part of this objective.

Secondly, he said, the hospice will “fundamentally review its fundraising capability” to make its “income-generation function fit for the 21st century”. And thirdly it wants to modernise its communications strategy.

UUP Alderman Derek Hussey, said he was playing devil’s advocate, when asking Mr. Henderson what made the Foyle Hospice different from other charities.

He replied: “One thing about Foyle Hopsice is that it is a local charity and all the money raised is spent in the local community.”

Independent Colr. Darren O’Reilly said: “I’ve had direct experience of being there with family members and I can’t speak highly enough of the facility.”

Independent Colr. Gary Donnelly said he also had personal experience of using the facility and that even having access to the gardens was a salve to families coping with the terminal illness of a loved one.

“You need that sometimes to put life in perspective,” he said.