When the Trustees of Pilgrims Hospice announced in May 2014 that they were going to close all sixteen beds in the Canterbury hospice, to focus more on outreach work, Julian was dismayed. Like so many other local people, he has experienced the death of more than one friend there and is a huge admirer of the hospice and the ‘good’ deaths that they can offer with effective palliative care in a warm and caring environment. Large numbers of local people were outraged too and wrote to Julian to voice their objections to the loss of the beds.
Julian lost no time in having a talk with the Pilgrims Trustees about their plans and agreed to chair a public meeting, although he was aware that, as a charity, the Hospice was outside his remit as an MP, so his influence was limited. He later described it as one of the most difficult meetings of his life – 400 people packed the Canterbury Academy hall, with public feeling running high. Most of those who spoke had lost spouses or parents in the hospice and were devastated at the prospect of losing it. The Chairman of the Trustees told the meeting of the financial deficit Pilgrims Hospice was running, but lack of clarity as to how big it was – and how it arose – caused deep concern.
After this, the Trustees decided to reconsider their plans and there have been changes on the board and in the management. The board has announced that they would, after all, be keeping the open in Canterbury. It is not yet known how many will be kept - the ultimate number will be governed by the amount of money available – the more funds the Hospices have, the more beds they will be able to keep open.
Julian is therefore encouraging people to get on board with the Hospice and keep up the good fundraising work that so many dedicated people do all year round. To find out more go to: http://www.pilgrimshospices.org/