The coronavirus pandemic is understandably leaving many of us feeling worried and anxious about the future. We have put together this web page to collate helpful advice and information about looking after yourself and your mental well-being during this uncertain time. It will be updated regularly with new content, and we hope that you find it helpful.

Linda Brady, one of our counsellors, has recorded some simple meditation practices which you can enjoy in your own time. The first is a three minute breathing exercise, and the second is a meditation for feeling as safe as you reasonably can:

  • There are lots of free meditations readily available on YouTube to help support anxiety, worry or stress. Search here.
  • Look out for online exercise classes that are being offered by personal trainers and gyms – including yoga, Pilates or more intensive workouts.
  • Enjoy a walk in the fresh air, whilst practicing social distancing.
  • Turning a mountain into hills – a useful article by Charlotte Walker who considers what she can and cannot control throughout the pandemic, and explains: ‘I hope it inspires you to think about your own mountain and how you could come up with your own version of more manageable hills.’
  • Coronavirus: How to look after your self-care in these uncertain times – a very useful article from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
  • Mind have information on their website if you are worried about coronavirus and how it could affect your life. This may include being asked to stay at home or avoid other people. Find out more.
  • Helpful content including videos about emotional health and well-being during this time, from Derbyshire County Council.

Other helpful articles:

Blythe House Hospicecare is increasing the level of community care to support the most vulnerable people as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The hospice is providing 24/7 end of life care in the comfort of patient’s homes. In addition, a team of hospice staff and volunteers is posting ‘kindness cards’ to let people know about support including shopping, prescription pick-ups, telephone chats and food parcels.

Nurses, counsellors and healthcare assistants are also on-hand to provide telephone support to all patients and their families.

Janet Dunphy, CEO, said: ‘Our community have supported us to develop to meet the increasing needs of people in the High Peak, and this is payback time, we will be there for them even more now. We are stronger together.

‘The well-being of the people we support, hospice visitors, staff and volunteers is our first priority and that’s why we are following advice and guidance issued by Public Health England and the UK Government.

‘At the present time, we are taking each day as it comes with regards to the ongoing situation. We have taken on-board Government advice and have made decisions to implement some changes to services whilst continuing to support the most isolated and vulnerable people in our local area.’

All non-essential meetings and sessions at the hospice or in the local community have been cancelled for the time being including this Friday’s coffee morning due to take place at Alderbrook Day Centre in Chinley; out-patient clinics; weekly support groups and walking for health sessions.

The hospice’s Chapel-en-le-Frith and New Mills shops will be closed from today (18th March), until further notice. The Whaley Bridge department store will remain open for the time being, and the Buxton outlet will be open on an ad-hoc basis.

Janet added: ‘We are liaising closely with our event sponsors and co-organisers to determine what will happen to future fundraising events. National events that our supporters are involved in, like the London Marathon, have already been postponed. We will keep members of the public updated as soon as we have details of the plans going forward.’

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated due to the current situation, or you’d like to find out more about support from Blythe House, please contact Vicci Wild or Julie Forrest on 01298 816990.

Find out more via our dedicated coronavirus webpage.

Heading out to do some shopping or run errands over the coming weeks, you might notice some new faces that crop up regularly in shops and businesses across the High Peak and Hope Valley.

Blythe House Hospicecare is delighted to launch its new fundraising collection pots, displaying the beaming faces of dedicated hospice supporters.

More than 170 collection pots are dispersed across the community in places like banks, shops, cafés, pubs and companies, with members of the public donating spare change to help support their local hospice.

The generosity of local people, and the businesses that are proud to display Blythe House collection pots, helped the hospice to raise over £10,800 throughout 2018/19.

All these donations enable the Chapel-en-le-Frith hospice to continue to provide free care and services to local patients with illnesses including cancer, motor neurone disease, heart failure, COPD and Parkinson’s, as well as their carers and families.

Sally and Ben

Ben Hinchliffe fought cancer for much of his life including having leukaemia as a child before being diagnosed with bowel cancer. The former Frome resident moved to Chapel-en-le-Frith with his family in April 2017 and soon after started to access the services at Blythe House.

The passionate fundraiser had previously been actively involved in raising money for the cancer care centre at Royal United Hospitals in Bath, were he underwent treatment; he would volunteer alongside his mum, Sally to collect fundraising pots from local shops and businesses.

Ben was keen to be busy and always wanted to support Blythe House. He secured a job with the High Peak Food Bank through Zink Employability as a direct result of coming to the hospice.

‘He always felt at home at Blythe House; he gained an awful lot from coming here. When another shock hit him, he’d say “I’m going to Blythe!”’ explained Sally.

‘Ben had secured an apprenticeship role at a quarry in Bradwell through Zink, but sadly a week after accepting it, he had to tell them that he was no longer able to undertake the role as he was re-diagnosed with bowel cancer.’

Ben’s dad, Peter added: ‘He never said he would not get better – he always said: “I’ve done this before and I’ll do it again!”’

Sally said: ‘Ben tragically passed away in November 2018, aged just 36 years old. Blythe House continues to provide ongoing support to me and the rest of the family who’re still coming to terms with our loss.

‘Ben would’ve absolutely loved being the “face” of the Blythe House collection pots – he would’ve been honoured to have been asked. It is very ironic that we used to volunteer our time to collect fundraising pots when he was younger, and now his legacy lives on as he’ll actually be printed on the pots here in the High Peak!’

Collette and Kenzie

A good friend of Ben’s during his time in the Living Well service was fellow Chapel-en-le-Frith resident, Collette Russell. The 30-year-old who moved to the town from Fairfield, Buxton, started to attend Blythe House in April 2018, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Collette, who has a 10-year-old son called Kenzie, said: ‘I visited the doctor several times from December 2014 to March the following year with different symptoms including a nasty cough and just generally feeling unwell. In July, I discovered a lump under my armpit so went to the GP again, where I was told it was a cyst that would just go away.

‘In October, in my role as a carer at a local nursing home, I was kicked in the stomach by a resident. It wasn’t a malicious kick, but I was in pain and was referred to Stepping Hill Hospital as I had a very high heart rate and temperature. Over the coming days, I underwent X-Rays and CT scans, before hospital doctors confirmed that I had a mediastinal mass in my chest [growths that form in the area that separates the lungs].

‘I underwent further tests including bone marrow and lymph node biopsies, as well as having four blood transfusions. On the 27th November 2015, I was told that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was transferred to The Christie Hospital where I underwent scans and started chemotherapy. In May 2016, I finished chemo and underwent a PET [Positron emission tomography] scan where no cancerous activity was found! I had some radiotherapy, and on 27th July 2016, exactly eight months since I was diagnosed with cancer; I rang the bell at The Christie for finishing all my treatment!

‘I went straight back to work being a full-time carer; I never really had time to think about what I’d been through, and just started back into “normal” life. But on the second anniversary of my diagnosis in October 2017, I felt so upset and desperately low. I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with severe depression; they also referred me to Blythe House.

‘At first I didn’t want to come here; I thought it was a hospice building full of old people who were dying. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. Here I have sought advice and support, and made friends for life; they are like my second family. It doesn’t matter what age people are – they range from their 30s to their 90s – we are all the very best of friends! Everyone has helped me through this really difficult time in my life; we can be ourselves here, we laugh and we can cry too. I took part in the Writing for Life group to put the words in my head down on paper about my illness, and the group still regularly meets up outside of the hospice to catch up and offer each other support.

‘I have also enjoyed complementary therapies to help me feel better in myself. I now suffer with vitiligo as a result of receiving chemotherapy; I am receiving counselling at Blythe House to come to terms with this; every time I look in the mirror at myself, there’s a constant reminder that I had cancer.

‘I was inspired by the beauty therapists at Blythe House to become one myself, to be able to offer treatments and therapies to people in similar situations. I started a course at the University of Derby in Buxton in September 2019, and hope to be able to come to Blythe House when I’m qualified to be able to treat the patients.

The Tollertons’

‘The nurses nominated me to be the “face of” the collection pots; I was so pleased! It’s bittersweet because Ben and I got on so, so well. I was so low when he died. He really understood what I went through – but he was never phased by illness – he’d always say “I’m going to fight it!” I’m really proud to be on the collection pots alongside Ben. It’s my way of being able to give just a little something back to Blythe House for all it has done for me.’

Rebecca and Mark Tollerton, and their children, Amelia and George, from Dove Holes also feature on the new collection pots. Read their Blythe House story.

Keith and Margaret

Keith Bolton accessed hospice services for his wife, Margaret after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Keith and Margaret, from Glossop, also have a photo displayed on the new pots. Read their story.

If you would like to house a Blythe House collection box in your shop or local business, please call: 01298 815 388 or email: fundraising@blythehouse.co.uk

Our community volunteer programme, described as ‘gentle, invaluable and amazing,’ is seeking local people who would like to support patients in the comfort of their own home.

The service provides practical and emotional support in the homes of local patients who have life-limiting illnesses including cancer, COPD, heart failure and neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease.

After completing comprehensive training, community volunteers are able to provide help and support to patients and their families including respite breaks, companionship, light household chores and gardening. The current team of 22 volunteers donated over 400 hours of support between October and December 2019.

Alison Dronfield-Boyd (left) from Buxton became a community volunteer in June last year after retiring early. She has been offering help to a local patient who has motor neurone disease, and said: ‘I support with a variety of things including improving accessibility to make life easier, for example, moving items in the kitchen to a lower level. I have ironed clothes, as this is something that the individual can no longer carry out. I have also walked the dog and carried out gardening tasks. The main thing during all this is the companionship; we chat and enjoy each other’s company.

‘The community volunteer programme is a massive support to people who need it and is extremely personally rewarding. It’s the best thing I have ever done with my time; I would say that even the smallest amount of time that can be provided is very much appreciated.’

A volunteer supports Bill with respite care at his home in Chapel-en-le-Frith so that his wife of over 60 years, Marina is able to go out. She said: ‘Jon comes round for two hours each week to chat to Bill and keep him company whilst I go shopping or meet up with a friend. People don’t realise how hard it is to not be able to go out when you want, or need to. Before the community volunteer programme, I very much relied on my daughters who are wonderful but only come round when they can, as they are both at work. With booking in scheduled visits from Jon, I have something to look forward to each week, and know that Bill is so well cared for when I am gone. We are so grateful to Jon for giving up his time to support us.’

To find out more about community volunteering at Blythe House, including a new training programme due to get underway next month, you can:

(Updated at 1.20pm on 24.03.2020)

At Blythe House, the well-being of the people we support, hospice visitors, staff and volunteers is our first priority and that’s why we are following advice and guidance issued by Public Health England and the UK Government.

In light of the Government’s announcement on 23.03.2020, we have taken the decision to close the hospice building until further notice to help keep our staff and volunteers safe.

Our hospice services are continuing in our local community:

  • We are continuing to provide 24/7 end of life care in the comfort of patient’s homes. Hygiene and cleanliness is of course paramount to all of our fantastic healthcare assistants all of the time – not just in times of crisis. Alongside the usual items including gloves and aprons, the healthcare assistants are now using masks, paper towels and hand sanitisers frequently.
  • Our amazing team of nurses, counsellors and healthcare assistants are on-hand providing telephone support to all of our patients and their families.
  • We are providing companionship and support to the most vulnerable members of our community. This includes, but is not limited to, shopping, a telephone conversation, picking up prescriptions or running general errands, in full compliance with Government rules issued 23.03.2020.
  • All non-essential meetings and sessions at the hospice or in our local community have been cancelled for the time being. This includes coffee mornings, out-patient clinics, weekly support groups and walking for health sessions.
  • Our hospice charity shops in Whaley Bridge, Buxton, Chapel-en-le-Frith and New Mills are closed until further notice. We kindly ask that you do not leave donations outside the shop or on the pavement as we don’t know when we will be able to re-open and take the donations inside.
  • We are liaising closely with our event sponsors and co-organisers to determine what will happen to future fundraising events. National events that our supporters are involved in, like the London Marathon, have already been postponed. We will keep you updated as soon as we have details of the plans going forwards.

A huge THANK YOU to all of our amazing volunteers and supporters who continue to show such resilience in the face of uncertain times. A sliver of a ‘silver lining’ from this situation is the humbling support of our local community.

We will keep you updated as circumstances change. We hope that you stay safe and well.

Read our coronavirus Q&A leaflet.

Find free resources to help support your mental well-being during the ongoing situation.

 

Blythe House Bulletin is now available to read online, featuring news and info about the hospice’s care and services, and our upcoming events.

 

The reception, porch and a bathroom area at Blythe House Hospicecare are set to undergo a major transformation to ensure the building is accessible to all visitors.

The hospice is delighted to be working alongside CRASH, a national charity that is supporting the project by drawing on the professional skills, materials and financial generosity of the construction industry.

CRASH has also very kindly donated £30,000 towards the revamp, with the remaining costs coming from trusts and grants applied for by the hospice’s fundraising team.

Ongoing, fundamental support is also coming from local industry professionals including quantity surveyor, Gavin Garner of WCP Associates; Claire Wilde and Jemma Slater from SlaterWilde Architects and Designers; and Terry Ward, formerly of WMA Developments.

Janet Dunphy, CEO, said: ‘Blythe House celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2019 and the hospice has come a very long way in those three decades. As our services have grown and developed, what was once an adequate, welcoming space is now unfortunately not fit-for-purpose to meet the growing needs of our local community.

‘As a small hospice we need to ensure that all of our space is being used to its full potential and we have recognised that at present, there are a number of changes needed to ensure we are running effectively, meeting the demand of services and supporting our patients.

‘As you can imagine, at busy times and periods, the reception area can be very crowded and does not offer easy access to our Living Well service, or any kind of privacy for patients and visitors. The revamp will ensure it is made fully accessible to all patients, and will allow for privacy when visitors are waiting for appointments or meetings.

‘We are incredibly proud to be working alongside exceedingly talented, knowledgeable and dedicated representatives from CRASH and our local community – and we can’t wait to see the amazing revamped area later this year!’

Construction is set to get underway in mid-February 2020, continuing until around March. The hospice is working hard to ensure that disruption to services is kept to a minimum.

As mentioned previously, popular monthly coffee mornings will not take place throughout the refurb process due to access issues. Our next coffee morning is set to take place from 10am to 1pm on Friday 17th January at Alderbrook Day Centre, Buxton Road, Chinley, SK23 6ES.

Further updates about the refurbishment will be available in the coming weeks, so please stay up to date via our website and social media channels.

If you are thinking of giving your time to a good cause this year, then look no further than supporting your local hospice.

Blythe House Hospicecare is on the lookout for volunteers from all walks of life, to help provide care and services to local patients who have life-limiting illnesses including cancer, COPD, heart failure, and neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease, as well as their family members and carers.

Anyone over the age of 16 can volunteer at Blythe House, supporting the hospice in three key areas: patient services, retail and fundraising. Roles include befriending, catering assistant, fundraising and events support, gardener, reception cover, retail assistant, counsellor and driver.

Alistair Rogerson, Volunteer and Support Services Manager, said: ‘Without our dedicated team of over 270 volunteers, Blythe House simply could not open its doors every day. We are incredibly grateful to the friendly and committed bunch, who collectively give almost 600 hours of their time to the hospice every single week. Support from our volunteers means that we can spend the maximum amount of money directly on care and services for local patients and their families.’

(L-R): Emily (with her Nan who came to Blythe House), Tom, Jasmyn, John and Betty

  • Emily Efstathiou from Fairfield undertook volunteer work experience at the hospice during her Business Studies course at Buxton College: ‘The thing I have enjoyed the most has been meeting so many new people including the staff, volunteers and the patients, and hearing about everyone’s lives and reasons for supporting the charity; it has been truly inspirational.’
  • University of Manchester student, Tom Craig from Hayfield, volunteered during his summer holidays: ‘Just being somebody who a patient can talk to about some of the difficulties that they are facing; or simply a chat about a random topic; or helping to clean the teacups at the end of the day; it is worth volunteering here simply because you can really feel like you are making a difference.’
  • Jasmyn Walton, also from Hayfield, works full-time through the week but gives her time to support the hospice’s weekend fundraising events: ‘When I volunteered I went along with a few of my friends, which was great for the organisers as they had more helpers, but this also meant I spent time with my friends whilst contributing to the community. You will feel great after helping others – I am already looking forward to volunteering at the next event with the hospice!’
  • Taddington resident, John Baker is one of the hospice’s community volunteers, which sees him head out across the local area to provide support in the homes of patients, their families and carers: ‘I have supported a patient by ensuring her husband had some respite, taking him shopping and for a coffee and a cheeky cake for just two hours each week. Simply listening and offering a different environment for a couple of hours can and does make a massive difference within a difficult situation.’
  • Betty Moll, from Chapel-en-le-Frith, has volunteered at Blythe House charity shops since 2009, after she relocated to the High Peak from Peterborough with her husband Tony (who is also a hospice volunteer): ‘If you have just moved into the local area and you’re looking to meet new people and make friends, volunteering for Blythe House is a great way to do so. It is a worthy role and I know that I’m giving something back to support a local hospice.’

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at Blythe House, you can:

Blythe House’s reception area is set to undergo a refurbishment very soon and so our monthly coffee mornings will not take place at the hospice as usual, due to access issues.

Our next coffee morning is set to take place from 10am to 1pm on Friday 17th January at Alderbrook Day Centre, Buxton Road, Chinley, SK23 6ES.

Please spread the word and find out more.