How did you get involved with Blythe House Hospice?

I originally came to Blythe House as volunteer receptionist, I also provided admin support to the counselling team. A position became available in The Volunteer Support Team and I was successful on application. In December 2015 I was asked if I would like to support the new Hospice at Home service for 10 hours per week! This soon became my sole role and I now work 30 hours per week.

What does your role involve?

My main task is coordinator for Hospice at Home which involves arranging care for patients in their own home with our team of lovely healthcare assistants. The care can range from a couple of hours to an overnight stay, throughout the High Peak. We currently have 26 patients actively receiving care and 25 healthcare assistants. I usually make arrangements for over 400 visits a month.

What do you enjoy most about working here?

Every day is a challenge that keeps me on my toes; we are a very busy office and fast paced. All the hospice staff, volunteers and patients are just so lovely and I know this is often said, but we are like one big family.

What have you learnt as a result of volunteering and working at Blythe House?

Although I volunteered here, I wasn’t looking for a paid position, so I suppose being open to something different is a good lesson. I’m so glad I took that decision as I wouldn’t be doing what I do now if I hadn’t, and actually, I think this is the role I was always meant to do.

What would you say to inspire others to find out more about Blythe House and the services it offers?

Come and visit us! The biggest misconception when I speak to people about the hospice is that it’s a sad place… Just 15 minutes in the hospice will show you that it is such a positive happy place!

A new book showcasing short stories and poems written by High Peak people who have cancer and other life-limiting illnesess, is now available to buy across the borough.

The special paperback, called ‘Life is a Mish Mash,’ has been put together by members of a writing group at Blythe House Hospicecare, run by local poet and story-teller, Julian Cohen.

The first writers group was founded in 2015 as part of the Chapel-en-le-Frith hospice’s Living Well Service, offering sessions over several weeks for High Peak patients with cancer or any other life-limiting illness.

The latest group, made up of Dawn Haines, Sam Osborne, Sarah Whiteley, Sue Walmsley and Yvonne Reynolds, started in September 2018. Working together over 18 weeks, they decided that they’d like to create a book of their work to raise funds for the hospice.

Julian said: ‘Writing gives people the opportunity to help express their feelings and experiences, especially when going through difficult times. Most people think that they can’t write; but with the right sort of help and support they can create the most amazing and interesting work. People also share and read out their work to each other. There has been lots of discussion, some tears but also much laughter.’

As well as contributing to the writing within the book, Sam Osborne also designed the document ready for printing. She said: ‘This group has been such an amazing support for me by having the opportunity to write down my thoughts and then share them with the group. We now want to share some of our writings, feelings and thoughts with other people, who may, in one way or another, be on similar journeys to ourselves.’

Sarah Whiteley noted: ‘This group faces demons; instead of existing with terminal cancer, it has given me the ability to live positively, it’s given me a new lease of life. I have been able to explore and deal with things that I wouldn’t normally do. It has been an opportunity for me to take back control of the cancer; battle with it and get very angry with it, via the written word.’

Clockwise from bottom left: Sue, Dawn, Sarah, Yvonne, Julian and Sam

Sue Walmsley observed: ‘Cancer for me has been a very lonely experience, but this group has given me friends and people to talk to; it has been a revelation to me.’

Yvonne Reynolds added: ‘This experience has been very therapeutic for me, it has been a great outlet for people who cannot speak out loud.’

Dawn Haines commented: ‘We have been able to get to know each other so much more intimately than we would have otherwise.’

The book is available to buy from reception at Blythe House, or from one of the hospice’s shops in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Buxton, New Mills and Whaley Bridge.

With a minimum donation suggestion of £2, all the money raised will go directly to benefitting local people who have cancer or other life-limiting illness, as well as their families and carers.

How exiting we can celebrate the past, the present and the future… and we plan to! Look out for all the opportunities to tell your story and celebrate with us.

Blythe House Hospice started because of our wonderful Rev Betty Packham who cared for parishioner Stan Blythe in her home until he died. Stan left Betty a £1000 legacy, and she decided to start a service that would support people in the High Peak affected by life-limiting illness.

Somewhere in one small room, some special people had a vision and created Blythe House Hospice. The community responded with donations of time and money, volunteers for service provision and the Board of Trustees. And it is both of those groups who have been the backbone of Blythe House Hospice. Trustees such as John McNamara and Dr Simon Cocksedge have devoted decades to Blythe House Hospice, Pat Holland has raised over £100,000 with the marvellous Hallé events. Our Chairman Tim Mourne works tirelessly, you will see him at the Hospice and at every event, both driven and compassionate.

And a large number of volunteers have been here since the start, or for decades, doing everything and anything to drive us forward and keep services running. We have seen our income generation teams blossom and grow because of that. We know that if the money stops we stop; it is our volunteers and the generous public that makes sure that it doesn’t stop. They bring warmth, laughter, smiles and so much love into all they do. Their pride is palpable it is the pulse of the organisation.

Many professionals have worked across all areas with passion and enthusiasm to bring us where we are, whether you are here now, retired or developing your career somewhere else, whether I have met you or not, I thank you sincerely.

We are all shaped by our experiences and it is the people, spirits and experiences within Blythe House Hospice which have given it that special feeling; the one that wraps around you as you enter. It’s bright, it’s warm and it’s spiritually safe however complicated and difficult life may be for people. Throughout change, that vital essence has been nurtured. To stay the same in health care means, paradoxically that we must endure change. It is that well known fact and the climate of austerity that are always our challenges. We have to be able to continue to provide the services needed by our community, changing where we need to and constantly nurturing is how we achieve that.

A 30 year history has shown that we see three generations of people, because we care for adults and children, we may see grandma and grandson. Families know us and we know them, one of the magic elements of a small community; connectivity. The medical friendship of Dr Sarah Parnacott, Consultant in Palliative Medicine; Pauline Love, End of Life GP; and all our GPs and District Nurses; the team at Ashgate Hospicecare have been a part of the connections that ensures excellent, well communicated care.

The volume and quality of work we have delivered evidences how much these services are needed, we know that most care will be delivered in community. Our mission at Blythe House Hospice is to keep this community self-reliant and work with our partners and colleagues in primary care to avoid hospital admission and keep cancer support and end of life care close to home. The generosity of the public has brought us this far, I’m confident that together we can support the next three generations, my team and I are very proud to be taking us forward.

If you are reading this you have some interest in what we do and likely support us, you may be one of our fabulous volunteers, so I want to take this opportunity to say thank you, sincerely thank you. We couldn’t do this for you without you.

I want to finish where we started with Rev Betty Packham, still close, still giving of her time and spirit – that matters enormously Betty, you are much loved and respected.

Karan-Bradley-and-Alison-Trick

High Peak people with some spare time are being invited to find out more about volunteering with Blythe House Hospicecare.

There are lots of volunteering opportunities open to people aged 16 and over, including shop assistants, counsellors, drivers, caterers and fundraisers – and so many roles behind the scenes too.

Volunteer Karan Bradley (left, with patient, Alison) has given her time in a number of roles at Blythe House since 2010, during which she has supported the hospice’s creative arts programme, and the Whaley Bridge department store. Karan has recently become involved in the Community Volunteer Project, which sees her providing practical and emotional support to patients, family members and carers across the borough, in the comfort of their own homes.

The Hayfield resident says: ‘I think the wonderful thing about volunteering is that you’re just giving your time; you’re not doing anything particularly special. You’re listening, talking, making time and making a difference to people’s lives. Anyone can volunteer; you don’t have to have lots of experience or qualifications, you just have to be a compassionate person and be able to give a little or a lot of your time.

‘I can’t think of a better place than Blythe House to volunteer your time. It has such a wide base of opportunities, and there’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking to get back into work, you’re a student, recently retired – whatever your circumstances! You don’t need to be fearful; you’ll be made to feel so welcome and very much appreciated. I’d say don’t hesitate just go for it. If you’re anything like me, it might be the start of a very long and happy time in your life!’

Vicci Wild, Blythe House Hospice’s Community Volunteer Project Manager, added: ‘2019 sees the hospice celebrating 30 years of providing support to people across the High Peak. As we strive to continually meet the needs of our community, the project is initially funded by Macmillan and started last year, focusing very much on the Blythe House ethos of “Connecting our Community.” It is enabling us to support existing services, and provide volunteer support to patients in their own homes.’

One local family member who benefited from support commented: ‘I nearly cancelled the volunteer visit because I felt my house was in a mess, but the volunteer did not make me feel as though I was being judged, she helped me tidy up and get back on track.’

To find out more about volunteering opportunities:

  • Drop in to our informal information sessions at the hospice (Eccles Fold, SK23 9TJ) between 11am and 1pm on the second Monday of each month
  • Email: volunteering@blythehouse.co.uk
  • Call Vicci Wild or Julie Forrest on 01298 816990

Blythe House Hospicecare was founded in 1989 after local resident, Stan Blythe left a £1,000 legacy to Reverend Betty Packham.

We would love for you to help us celebrate 30 years of hospice care in the High Peak by hosting us a party!

It doesn’t matter what you do, how you do it or where you do it, it’s who you do it with that matters and the fact you are supporting your local hospice, Blythe House Hospicecare.

Please download our fundraising pack request form, fill it in and return it to Blythe House. We will then be able to send you your 30th birthday fundraising pack!

Download a request form

Read more about the history of Blythe House