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Latest New Year, New Lockdown - message from Karen Houlston

PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM KAREN HOULSTON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF WILLOW WOOD

This is a very different message to the one I had hoped to bring to you for January 2021. Looking back just a few weeks ago, things felt very positive. Our reception and shop volunteers were returning to their roles, and we were hoping to welcome others back into the Hospice itself. Rules around visiting our patients had been relaxed somewhat, and we were also planning the resumption of certain fundraising events. Unfortunately the incredibly fast spread of the COVID-19 variant and the resulting lockdown has meant we have had to take steps to minimise the risk of infection for our patients and their visitors, staff and volunteers.

Visiting hours have now been restricted to between 10am and 5pm and only two named individuals can visit each patient. Only one is allowed in the room at any one time. If any visitors are showing symptoms, we ask that they please do not come to the Hospice.

As of 7 January all visitors will be asked to take a Lateral Flow Test when they attend. This will take about 40 minutes so if you are visiting, please ensure that you allow enough time in your schedule. Only those with a negative result will be allowed to continue their visit and they must wear PPE throughout. All visitors will be given an explanatory leaflet and we are sure will understand why we have had to implement these procedures.

To further reduce footfall in the Hospice, and to reduce the potential spread of the virus, all staff who are able to work from home are doing so. Staff and volunteers remaining on site will be performing the Lateral Flow Tests at home prior to their shifts and we are hoping that this way we all remain as safe as possible.

Unfortunately our shops have had to close once again. With the postponement of fundraising events, our income is once again decreasing although our costs are continuing to rise. The provision of PPE alone for our clinical and housekeeping staff is an enormous cost, and one that was never budgeted for. We are so grateful to our supporters who continue to buy boxes of disposable gloves and sanitising wipes and drop these off at our reception. This is a most practical way to help us through these difficult times, and we appreciate it so much.

Other supporters are fundraising for us from their homes, whether by a sponsored silence from the children, a Coast to Coast cycle on exercise bikes, or by donating £1 for every lb in weight lost! Our sincere thanks go to everyone helping us in any way.

Finally, there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel now the vaccination programme is underway. May I send best wishes to you for the New Year, and hope that a bit more normality is round the corner. Thank you for your love, your care and your support.

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