Hospice hoping to help more families
A CHILDREN'S hospice hopes to be able to support even more youngsters and families in the coming year.
But its chief executive has said the Donna Louise Children's Hospice Trust faces an increasing demand for its services, despite reduced funding.
The Trentham Lakes-based charity reported an annual income of just over £2.3 million for the financial year from April 1, 2011, to March 31.
It made £1.7 million through fund-raising over the past 12 months, but needs to find an extra £30,000 each month during the year ahead.
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As well as maintaining its 24/7 opening, the hospice provided care and support to 155 children and families, and bereavement counselling and emotional support to 77 families.
From January, it hopes to be able to offer more families the option of 24/7 home-based end-of-life care and short breaks.
Dorothy-Ann Gillespie, director of care, said: "We've always provided community support and home-based breaks but from January, we are hoping to offer more families that option.
"At the moment we have quite a small resource but we are looking at working things differently and freeing up some capacity so we can provide families with more choice in terms of when they receive care."
Latest figures show the charity's income was £2,321,020 against outgoings of £2,337,749, leaving a deficit of £16,729.
Of this year's total income, £827,593 came from donations by individuals and the community. Successful fund-raising events included the 10k and 5k family fun run which attracted more than 500 runners, the Jazzmatazz Ball which raised £38,000 and an annual Golf Classic, which boosted coffers to the tune of £18,000.
Other income streams included money received from legacies, grants and companies.
The majority of outgoings were due to care service operating costs, which came in at £1,686,393.
Chief executive Nuala O'Kane said: "It has been a challenging time without doubt, and we are facing an increasing need and demand for services, against a background of reduced funding.
"But despite these challenges, I believe as an organisation we are stronger than we have ever been, and we have great strength in our talented staff.
"I believe we are in a stronger financial position than ever before.
"Finance is tight at the moment but because in the good years we managed to build up levels of reserves, this will help us to weather the storm.
"We have to cut our cloth accordingly and live within our means like everyone else out there, and find new ways of delivering services and generating income.
"When times get tough, that is when our real strength is tested."
Director of fund-raising Melanie Mills said despite a challenging year, the charity had managed to raise nine per cent more than the previous 12 months.
She said: "We are going to encounter more tough times ahead and the charity remains financially fragile, because we are heavily dependant on voluntary income, which makes us very susceptible to changes in the economy.
"It's going to be a challenge but we are committed more than ever to making sure we maintain out 24/7 opening.
"We have robust plans, loyal support, strong leadership and a team of enthusiastic volunteers which means we will be able to meet the challenge head on."