Local charity, Treetops Hospice Care, is celebrating receiving funding for a project encouraging communities to have conversations around death, dying and bereavement, and how to support others at the end of life.

The grant of £47,000 from the Nationwide Building Society’s Community Grant fund will fund thirty-two Compassionate Communities volunteer befrienders over two years. Befrienders will provide support and friendship to people with life-limiting illnesses in their own homes with the aim of offering one-to-one companionship, reducing isolation, listening and sharing experiences, and encouraging wider conversations about what is important for the end of life.

Treetops, based in Risley, provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions, and those who’ve been bereaved, and their families. The Compassionate Communities Project began as a pilot project in July 2017 aimed breaking taboos, reducing fears and helping communities find easier ways to discuss some of the more socially difficult topics such as death, dying, bereavement and loss.

Trained volunteers into homes

Julie Mehigan, Compassionate Communities and Engagement Lead said:

“We can all benefit from finding easier ways to talk to one another and listening to our wishes and preferences for the end of life and not feeling alone in this.

“People often find themselves isolated due to illness and the project will bring trained volunteers into the homes of community members to help them feel more socially connected.

“Having a cup of tea and a chat with someone familiar can have huge benefits to those who are in the last part of their lives. The funding the Nationwide Building Society has given will make a real difference to people’s lives”.

To help celebrate the funding, staff from the Ilkeston branch of Nationwide held a special celebration day in branch on Tuesday 26 November joined by staff from Treetops.

Treetops is close to my heart

Karen Hill, branch manager, said:

“Over the last 10 years, my team and I have supported Treetops through various ways with the help of our members coming into the branch.

“Treetops is close to my heart because of the support they offered to my family at a time of need, and this is something that I will never forget.

“Because of the work we have done with our fundraising previously, I was delighted when Nationwide started our Community Grant Project, giving charities like Treetops the opportunity to put a case forward for funding for the work they do.

“When I received the news some weeks ago that Treetops had been successful and Nationwide were going to be giving them over £47,000, I felt absolutely overwhelmed because I just knew how much difference this would make to people’s lives.

One of my proudest moments

“We held a Celebration Day in the branch so we could share the news with our members and it was great to see our members supporting again with the Christmas Raffle.

“It was one of my proudest moments to hand over the cheque to Julie, Julie and Cheryl from Treetops.  A day that my team and I won’t forget.

“We are now looking forward to continuing our support by offering our services for volunteering, which Nationwide fully support, along with our annual Easter egg collections, and attending and supporting the events that Treetops put on.”

More information about the Compassionate Communities Project and how to volunteer can be found online or by contacting Julie Mehigan at cc@treetopshospice.org.uk.

Treetops services include Support and Information, Wellbeing Space, Hospice at Home nurses and Therapeutic Services including counselling, art therapy and complementary therapy.

Nationwide, the world’s largest building society, has now awarded over £7.1 million to more than 189 projects across the UK and made £500,000 available to causes committed to making a difference in communities across the North West and North Midlands.