Stephen Merchant is one of many people across Bristol who is an avid supporter of St Peter’s Hospice after his grandmother and a close family friend were cared for by the charity.
The hospice now needs all of the support it can get, with the Hanham-born actor and comedian helping to launch a new fundraising campaign to protect the services it is able to offer to patients with life-limiting illnesses and their families.
The hospice in Brentry and its associated services have been devastated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic with all major fundraising events postponed and the temporary closure of all charity shops.
Despite the public’s ongoing support, they have a gap of more than £2m in funding this year, with the When It Matters Most campaign due to last for 12 months to plug the gap.
All of St Peter’s Hospice’s services are provided free of charge and they support around 3,000 patients and their families every year.
However, despite being a frontline service only 20 per cent of their funding comes from the NHS – with more than £4m of their funding comes through their shops, fundraising events and donations; and income from these activities is down significantly.
The hospice has already temporarily closed five beds in its Inpatient Unit (each bed costs £846 per day to run) and their Day Services (which has an annual running cost £516,139) will be closed for the medium term.
Merchant said that he “can’t imagine Bristol without St Peter’s”. He said: “The difference they have made to my family and the families of tens of thousands of others is immense.
“It is devastating to realise the enormity of the impact that Covid-19 has had, and that critical end of life care is threatened and might not be available in the future.”
St Peter’s Hospice CEO, Frank Noble, said: “The Hospice exists because of the generosity of our supporters and we have never needed you more.
“Our ability to help those at home, those in need of specialist care and those who need support through bereavement during these extraordinarily difficult times is diminishing as every week goes by.
“We are now at the point of reviewing staffing across the Hospice –something we have never had to do before. After everything we have been through it really is heart breaking.
“Making decisions that impact our services is not easy. Every decision we take is guided by the aim of minimising the impact on patients. The public’s support now is more vital than ever as we move through uncertain times.”
To donate, visit www.stpetershospice.org/make-a-donation
Main photo of Stephen Merchant courtesy of St Peter’s Hospice