URGENT APPEAL: Derbyshire charity Helen’s Trust – which one day could help you or a loved one – faces closure

Helen's Trust staff Gill Hughes, Lisa Sutherland, Heidi Hopkins and Zoe Woodward.

Helen's Trust staff Gill Hughes, Lisa Sutherland, Heidi Hopkins and Zoe Woodward.

  • Bakewell-based charity Helen’s Trust could close in six months unless it gets more donations from the public
  • The charity – which helps terminally ill people stay at home in the last six months of their lives – saw demand for its services rise by more than 60 per cent last year
  • Woman who was supported by Helen’s Trust says the charity must be saved
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A charity which provides vital services to terminally ill people across north Derbyshire is on the brink of collapse.

Bakewell-based Helen’s Trust says it is likely to face closure by June unless it gets more financial support from the public.

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DONATE TO HELEN’S TRUST HERE OR CALL 01629 812759

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The charity – which has helped more than 1,000 people with a number of different terminal illnesses to remain at home in the last six months of their lives – has now sounded an urgent fundraising plea.

This is the biggest challenge our charity has ever faced

Heidi Hawkins, chief executive of Helen’s Trust

During 2015, Helen’s Trust saw demand for its services increase by more than 60 per cent compared with the previous year.

Chief executive Heidi Hawkins said the charity is now running ‘dangerously close’ to the level of reserves it protects to ensure six months’ running costs in the event of closure.

“This is the biggest challenge our charity has ever faced,” she said.

“We are making an urgent appeal to the people of north Derbyshire to help us protect and sustain the valuable services which have made such a difference to so many people at an extremely difficult time.

“For those people who came to us in December, we are faced with the tragic but very real possibility that we will not be there to support them in six months’ time when they will be potentially in their final days and may need our support most.”

Founded in 2001 in memory of Derbyshire woman Helen Lyon who died of cancer, Helen’s Trust needs to raise £230,000 every year to provide a number of important services – including a night-sitting scheme which enables the main carer to get some sleep knowing that their loved one is safe and not alone.

Enid Ellis was supported by Helen’s Trust when she was caring for her husband John at home after he was diagnosed with corticobasal degeneration, a rare condition which causes gradually worsening problems with movement, speech, memory and swallowing.

With the help provided by Helen’s Trust, John passed away at home which was his wish.

Ms Ellis said: “Helen’s Trust gives the carer a break which is so needed when you’re caring for someone with a terminal illness. I really don’t know how people who don’t have the help of Helen’s Trust cope.

“For years before we used Helen’s Trust we used to attend their fundraising events, never thinking we would need their help. There will be so many other people out there attending these events probably thinking the same as we did - but one day they may need the help of Helen’s Trust and it needs to be there for their support as it was there for our support.”

Baslow GP Dr Abigail Waterfall voiced concern about losing the important services the charity provides.

She said: “As a GP I contacted Helen’s Trust several times in 2015. This helped prevent numerous hospital admissions in cases where the patient really wanted to be able to stay at home.

“I have always been impressed that the team at Helen’s Trust listens to and understands our patient’s needs, the local area and the services which are available for them. They understand the importance of working towards providing personalised care for each individual person.

“They have always been polite, efficient and go out of their way to be helpful. They have put in place services for night sits or equipment for our frail, elderly and vulnerable patients within minutes. This enables our patients to be able to stay in their own home if they wish to.”

Helen’s Trust treasurer Simon Crowther said the charity steps in and provides a ‘vital service’ when health and social care provision ends.

He said: “We estimate that every £1 invested in Helen’s Trust saves the NHS £3. We pride ourselves on our reputation for providing high-quality dependable, responsive and flexible care and support. Our help is free to anyone who needs us and who desperately wants to stay in their own home at the end of their illness, surrounded by everything that is familiar.

“The fundraising landscape has changed dramatically in the past 14 years and there is so much more demand now for donations. Our income projections for 2016 just don’t meet what we need to meet the increased demands for our services.”

The hard-working team at Helen’s Trust has worked to make savings and knows the charity wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of people in the area.

Ms Hawkins said: “I am appealing to everyone in north Derbyshire to come together to help us provide a solution by considering making a monthly contribution to enable us to make sure your community doesn’t lose Helen’s Trust.

“There are many ways people can help us but, specifically, monthly giving will enable us to plan for a regular income and know that the costs of the help we give are covered. Any regular donation, however small, will really add up to fund our much needed-services.”