Austin's Blog

 

Butterfly volunteers: Making a difference to every last minute of life

February 4th, 2019    Author:

Butterfly Choir

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life”. We all know February is the month of love, but with Time to Talk Day on the 7th, it’s also about opening up about mental health – anxiety, depression, perhaps even loneliness. We all know how important relationships are at all stages of our lives, and feeling close to those that we love.

How would you feel about being alone in the last chapter of your life? What would you do if you couldn’t get to a family member or close friend in their last few days?

Charity of the year

With this in mind, we’re delighted that our charity of the year for 2019 is the Butterfly Volunteers Service. This incredible team of specially trained volunteers are based at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage where they provide support and companionship to dying adult patients and their families.

The quote above is from Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the Hospice Movement. It’s hugely poignant and synonymous with the Butterfly Service, which creates a ‘hospice in hospital’ environment.

The Butterfly volunteers, or ‘Butterflies’ for short, say: “It is recognised that in the final days and hours of a person’s life, it is not always possible for staff or family members to sit with dying patients; factors determining this include busy workloads and geographical proximity of relatives.”

Happiness is love

We love these words from one of the Butterflies: “For me happiness is love, not just receiving it but also being able to give it, share it. Being with a person at the end of life is a privilege and I hope it makes a difference to their lives, as little as it may be.”

Helping in numbers

Did you know that, before the Service was set up in 2016, an estimated 15-20 patients a month were dying alone at the Lister Hospital, either waiting for relatives to arrive or because they didn’t have any relatives?

As heartbreaking as that number is, it’s wonderful to hear that last year the hospital’s 30 Butterflies sat with 650 patients, made over 2,000 visits and provided over 1,000 hours of emotional support. Now they’re some numbers to be proud of, and there’s no doubt the Service has made a fundamental difference to the way the Lister provides end of life care.

Working as a team

The work these volunteers do really is priceless. If you’re at the Lister Hospital and see people in purple polo shirts with butterfly logos, you’ll know what amazing work they’re doing.

The Butterflies work with:

● Patients nearing the end of their life, who may feel lonely and frightened. They might read to them, sit with them or just hold their hand
● Friends and family of the patients who may need someone to talk to, someone to give them a break from sitting by the bedside, or simply to make hot drinks or run errands to the hospital shop
● The ward staff to help free up their time to care for other patients, safe in the knowledge that there is someone providing support to patients who are dying

One person helped by the Butterflies said: “To leave Dad with a Butterfly Volunteer, who we knew would sit with him in our absence, was a great comfort to us. You helped to make a difficult time a little easier. Thank you.”

Austin’s charitable work
The Butterflies need £25,000 a year to continue their work and we aim to help them towards that target throughout 2019. Our charitable fund was set up in 2002 and it has raised over £125,000 for community-based and local charities including the Samaritans, Stevenage Haven, Cancer Hair Care and Tracks Autism. We’re very grateful to everyone who has helped to raise money for these brilliant charities so far.

To find out more about the Butterfly Volunteers Service, visit: https://www.enherts-tr.nhs.uk/get-involved/volunteering/butterfly-volunteers/

We’ll also be posting updates about the work they do throughout the year on the website and on our social media channels.

Donation to Isabel Hospice

May 17th, 2018    Author:

MD Claire Austin was thrilled to hand over a cheque for £5,000 to Isabel Hospice  this week. Isabel Hospice cares for adults with a life-limiting illness across eastern Hertfordshire.  Specialist palliative care is available to adults both at home and at the In-Patient Unit as well as at the Day Service locations. All care is free, although running costs each year are currently £4.5 million, of which £2.8 million must be raised from charitable sources.

The donation was made possible by our membership of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), which runs an innovate Metals Recycling Scheme.  As part of the scheme, crematoriums can have metals collected from their premises, with profits from the recycling scheme fed back so that they can donate to their nominated charity.

Photo L – R are: Beth Hardy, Head of Community and Events, Nurse Anne Porter, Austins MD Claire Austin and Nurse Karen Beckwith

 

Cheque presentation of £5,000 made to Peace Hospice

 

Austin’s charitable donations

March 27th, 2018    Author:

We believe in helping those most in need in our community, which is why we set up Austin’s Charitable Foundation. Each year, we’re delighted to be able to support a charity by donating a proportion of our annual profits along with money donated from sources including our funeral service CD and Christmas carol concert.

Since we started the foundation in 2002, we’ve raised over £100,000 for charities such as the North Herts Samaritans, Cancer Hair Care, the Hertfordshire Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre and Road Victims Trust. Earlier this month, Austin’s was thrilled to hand over a cheque for £5,414.30 to our 2017 charity recipient Stand-By-Me. This local community-led service supports children and young people following a bereavement and helps them to understand and deal with grief.

 

We’d love to raise as much money, if not more, for our 2018 charity, Resolve – which supports people through their recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. If you’d like to help the local community in memory of a loved one, information on how to do this is available from all our funeral offices and at Harwood Park Crematorium. You can also download a donation form

With your help, Austin’s look forward to donating money to deserving causes for many years to come.

 

[photo caption]

Claire Austin hands over a cheque to (right) Shirley Avery, fundraising trustee at Stand-By-Me and (far right) Helen Gray, foundation director of Hertfordshire Community Foundation

 

* For help and support planning a funeral or cremation, please contact Austin’s on 01438 316623.

Our Christmas present to a local charity

December 13th, 2017    Author:

It’s always lovely to help local charities so Austin’s was thrilled to hand over a cheque for £5,000 to Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North this month. It’s a fantastic charity that supports unpaid carers and their families through a range of services, including help at home, community cafes and respite care.

The donation was made possible by our membership of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management (ICCM), which runs an innovate Metals Recycling Scheme.  As part of the scheme, crematoriums can have metals collected from their premises, with profits from the recycling scheme fed back so that they can donate to their nominated charity.

The ICCM started its recycling scheme in 2006, following on from other European countries like Holland, Germany and Switzerland. The idea behind it was first and foremost to help the environment – which is why our Harwood Park Crematorium was so keen to sign up.

The main metal that’s collected is from orthopaedic implants, which people may have had for a joint replacement or bone repair operation. These implants are made from medical-grade metal that comes from non-renewable sources – so a huge amount of energy is wasted in mining new ores to produce more metal. With the metal recycling scheme, the implants are smelted down ready to make new orthopaedic implants.

Since we joined the ICCM’s metal recycling scheme 11 years ago we’ve not only been helping to protect the planet in this way we’ve also raised around £30k for local charities, including Road Victims Trust, Keech Hospice Care and the MS Centre in Letchworth.

Of course we understand that not everyone will want to have their loved one’s implants recycled. Some people may prefer to either have an implant returned to them or for it to be buried. Unfortunately, however, we can’t scatter cremated remains that contain metal.

We’re always sensitive to a family’s needs and when you come to us to arrange a funeral we’ll do whatever feels right for you and your loved one. If you do decide to opt for recycling we’ll ask you to sign a consent form so that everyone is clear about your wishes.

 

* If you’d like to arrange a cremation at Harwood Park Crematorium, please contact us on 01438 815555.

 

Claire Austin hands a £5,000 cheque to Andrew Taylor, operations manager at Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North

Claire Austin hands a £5,000 cheque to Andrew Taylor, operations manager at Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North