20 March 2020

A message from our Chief Executive

Stewart Marks An update from 9 April 2020: 

“We welcome the announcement made by the Chancellor on 8 April of up to £200m emergency funding for hospices. This is an important recognition of the role that hospices play in supporting our NHS colleagues by caring for patients in their own homes and keeping them out of hospital. We are still waiting to learn the details of how the funding will be allocated and the extent to which this will address the predicted hole in our fundraising income for this financial year. We are immensely grateful for the support of our local community in recent weeks and would like to thank everyone who has kindly donated. This support has made a real difference and will continue to be important to us as we carry on caring for our patients and their families right through and beyond the current crisis.”

It is a time of big change for all of us and I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well.

I wanted to let you know how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting us at Rennie Grove and how we are responding with our very best efforts to ensure that all the local families who need our care and support can still receive it.

Our absolute priority is to make sure that our hospice at home service continues to offer care day and night to give our patients the choice to be at home with their families. At a time when some of us might be feeling a little challenged by the prospect of spending all our time at home, it’s important to remember that this is where most of our patients desperately want to be. And by making this possible, we also keep the pressure off the NHS by keeping people out of hospital wherever we can.

We are having to change the way we deliver some of our services though to keep patients, staff and volunteers safe which is vitally important. Our day services which were being delivered at temporary locations in and around St Albans while Grove House is being refurbished, have sadly had to close to protect our vulnerable patients as well as our staff and volunteers. We are now keeping closely in touch with these patients and offering them further support at home if needed. Our Family Support services are still running with many sessions taking place by phone.

Although our services are provided free to the families we support, funding them is a challenge at the best of times. We receive just 11% of the costs of our service from the NHS and rely on the generosity of our local community to fund the remaining 89%. This means we need to raise £20,000 every single day to keep our services running and the stark truth is that we are finding this impossible in the current climate. We are having to cancel many of our fundraising activities and have had to close our charity shops.

Our Chair of Trustees, Professor Stephen Spiro, highlighted the financial plight of hospices in a letter to The Times recently, calling for government support to help hospices survive these difficult times. We know it is really important for us to do all we can to ensure our service continues for those who need us and we hope this will draw attention at the highest level to the difficulties we face.

We are also looking at fundraising in different ways. While we aren’t able to run events and community activities or open our shops, we can bring people together online and we are launching some new digital fundraising initiatives which I really hope you will be able to support and spread the word about as much as you can, like our new Facebook fundraiser, its message being we need your support, now more than ever.

I recognise that many people are being hit hard by the effects of this pandemic but I have seen some really heartening examples of communities coming together to ensure that local people get the support they need.  If you are able to, please consider making a donation or supporting our other fundraising initiatives to help us keep our vital community service running.

I know that everyone at Rennie Grove will join me in thanking you for helping us by doing whatever you can to keep our nurses caring. Your continued support is much appreciated by us all.

Most importantly, please stay safe and healthy.

Best wishes


Stewart Marks

Chief Executive, Rennie Grove Hospice Care