The recent launch of Ashfield Cares and the impact it is having already on local charities in the UK, and across the world, gave a group of us an impetus to explore how we can also give back to our local community, after briefly looking in the North West Leicestershire area, we quickly found a fantastic organisation that we felt we could work with and support through volunteering our time and skills to help them achieve their objective in continuously supporting their guests.
Hospice Hope are a local charity focussed on providing easily accessible support for those with life-limiting illnesses. For a number of years this support has been provided through Support Cafés in 3 towns in North West Leicestershire, however due to their success there has been a need for Hospice Hope to expand their offering. This gave rise to a project to refurbish a large residential property into a day centre for their guests to receive meals, entertainment and support from a qualified nurse. After receiving planning permission from the council in January 2017, the aim was to open Hope House to their first guests on April 3rd.
I met with the Chair of Hospice Hope, Stewart Shepherd in February and discussed ways in which we can help them reach their goal of opening at the start of April. Due to the enormous task in hand, Stewart was keen for some physical labour to start the transformation of an overgrown piece of land to a sensory garden for the guests to enjoy on those summer days, with fantastic views over the rural Leicestershire landscape.
Instantly we were happy to help Stewart and his team with this immediate request.
Visit 1 – 25th March 2017
After 20 minutes of driving through tractor tracks and single track lanes in a far from off-road Toyota Avensis, Neil Doyle, Adam Occleshaw and I (Jarrat Parsons), arrived at Hope House. We were surprised by the size of the building and grounds and could already imagine how much work must have gone into the renovation up until now.
We were soon greeted by Stewart and his team, all of which were loyal volunteers after retiring from their trades, from electricians to previous Managing Directors in finance. We were each handed a spade and a cup of tea, followed by a briefing of what needed to be done. Neil was drafted in to dig a trench to allow electrical supply to a stunning water feature, an unexpected donation from the Ashby Rotary Club, whilst Adam and I were assigned to tackling a pile of soil, rocks, glass, wood and the perilous chicken wire!
It was soon apparent that the 3 of us were not the most accustomed to this sort of work, but now armed with gloves to protect us from any of the pile’s inhabitants, we picked up the pace, building a bonfire of wood and creating a walkway between the car park and garden with the piled up soil. The chicken wire proved stubborn, but with only a set of secateurs we managed to carefully cut through the wire.
In the meantime, Neil was making ‘steady’ progress with his trench (more of a small ditch) from under paving slabs through to the centre of the lawn, through military style guidance from the retired electrician watching his every step. Once the trench was complete, Neil joined the rest of us to crack on with the dismantling of the pile.
Through 5 tea-fuelled hours of digging, lifting, moving and aching, it was mission complete! As we saw the progress we had made a wave of pride and satisfaction hit us and the sense that we have really contributed to a fantastic project, albeit a small piece in a very large jigsaw, that will really help those who need it the most.
Stewart was then very kind to show us through the building itself as they were adding final touches to a kitchen, dining area, office, nurses’ room and sensory room. All of which will play a vital role in making the guests’ stay as comfortable as possible and something to look forward to when times are hard.
We knew then, that we didn’t want to stop with just a bit of labour work. Hospice Hope runs solely on donations and have some fantastic charity funding behind them, so we wanted to find another way in which we can help them achieve their goals. We feel that as individuals, and as a wider company, we have a resource of skills we can tap into to provide guidance on how to raise their profile as a charity in the area and simplify some of their processes, such as IT for example and have since set up a meeting to discuss these opportunities.
At Ashfield, our mission is to help improve lives. We do this every day by working with our clients to help healthcare professionals and patients get the medicines, knowledge and support they need. We are also committed to using our size, resources and geographical reach to have a positive impact on the communities around us through the work of Ashfield Cares globally.