An open letter from trustees to the staff of Herriot Hospice Homecare, Just ‘B’ and Saint Michael’s during the coronavirus pandemic

Dear all,

At the beginning of last month, we made a difficult decision to postpone one of our mass-participation events – our Saint Michael’s Twilight Walk, involving 500 local people. At that time, it was a purely precautionary move, and not one everyone agreed with. It was borne out of a strong sense of responsibility to our supporters, volunteers and staff, as well as our community. Nobody was entirely sure of neither the severity of the situation nor how long the situation might continue for…and to an extent we still don’t.

What we do know is that these past few weeks have evolved into unprecedented times for our districts, our country and the world, bringing difficulties and sadness to far too many. It has also given rise to a whole new vocabulary of social-distancing, self-isolation, and pandemic. We have, in many ways, adjusted our entire way of living and working, the consequences of which we are yet to fully realise.

While it may feel as though everything around us is changing, some things remain constant. North Yorkshire District Hospice Care is here to provide vital care and support to people living with terminal illness and bereavement in Harrogate, Hambleton and Richmondshire, as we have done for the last 30 years. We do this 365 days a year, seven days a week and will focus on continuing to do so for as long as COVID-19 lasts and beyond, for as long as there is need.

We haven’t stopped there. The communities we serve are facing new and different demands from yesterday and even last week. And sometimes, these demands are changing daily. In this context, we have looked into ourselves as people and as an organisation to ask, what more can we do to help our communities?

The answer has been loud and clear; we have the expertise and ability to do more, a commitment we have demonstrated with the opening of our new Just ‘B’ Hear to Help anxiety line and our Just ‘B’ NHS Support line. We continue to demonstrate this with our upcoming involvement in the medical and chaplaincy services at the Yorkshire and Humber Nightingale Hospital, in Harrogate.

Such vision and rapid delivery of new and changed services takes bravery, decisiveness, smart-thinking and single-minded commitment. In these unprecedented times, we – the chairs of Herriot Hospice Homecare, Just ‘B’ and Saint Michael’s – would like to take a moment to publicly acknowledge and applaud all the remarkable staff of our hospice care charity who are giving so much during these times to make these things happen.

We thank you all: our doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants; our clinicians, physiotherapists and specialists; our HOME service team, our social workers and patient support workers; our bereavement support teams and counsellors, our housekeeping teams, catering staff and facilities team. And the many other support teams helping our frontline workers to be able to perform their roles safely and ably. Every single one of you is playing a vital role in helping families at the most difficult of times.

Thank you for your flexibility and creativity as we all adapt to different ways of working and – in some cases – taking on new roles and responsibilities as we strive to ensure everyone receives the care they need.

Thank you for your stamina and resilience, for looking after each other and working together to keeping services going and rapidly evolving to meet need.

And above all, thank you for your care and compassion and respect for the people we are here for. There is an adage that crises don’t build character, they reveal it, and this national emergency has shown what an incredible team we have.

While the work of our NHS colleagues is rightly in the spotlight, we are all part of one team, playing a key part in keeping our communities safe, cared for and supported.

Our priority is keeping as many of our services open and accessible as possible for those who need us, as well as looking at ways to provide new services according to the needs of the community we serve, and support our NHS colleagues.

We will no doubt look back on COVID-19 as a defining moment for our organisation, where we remained present for our communities but also stepped up to offer additional help. And without you, our amazing hospice care staff, we would not be able to do this.

You are our hospice heroes and we are immensely proud to be your colleagues.

Joint Chairs of Trustees:

Lesley Bers and Dr Hilary Enevoldson



North Yorkshire Hospice Care is a registered charity in England and Wales (518905) with a family of services operating as Herriot Hospice Homecare, Just ‘B’, Saint Michael’s Hospice and Talking Spaces. North Yorkshire Hospice Care is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales (2121179). Registered address Crimple House, Hornbeam Park Avenue, Harrogate, HG2 8QL

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