Media release: Mary Potter Hospice collectors not hitting the streets this week

May 20th, 2020

Having to close its Hospice shops for eight weeks as well as cancelling its May 2020 Street Appeal is a blow for Mary Potter Hospice’s fundraising.

For years, Mary Potter Hospice has run a street appeal in May, with 1000 volunteers at every street corner, supermarket and railway station.

The funds raised from the Wellington, Kāpiti and Porirua communities help fund care for people with life-limiting illnesses.

However, Mary Potter Hospice chief executive Brent Alderton said due to Covid-19 restrictions the Hospice would not be holding its traditional May street appeal.

The cancellation – coupled with the closure of the Hospice shops – had caused considerable strain on the charity.

“Our May Street Appeal usually raises up to $100,000 for our Hospice services,” Alderton said. “Thankfully we were able to take advantage of the Wage Subsidy to tide us over for a while.”

The decision by major banks to stop issuing cheque books was also concerning for the Hospice given the high number of donations given via cheque.

An analysis of donations to Mary Potter Hospice in the year to April 2019, showed 2640 cheques were received totaling more than $420,000. In response to direct mail letters to supporters, cheques represent 47% of donations. The Hospice also receives annual or ad-hoc donations from donors such as service clubs, incorporated societies, churches and social groups who send cheques because two signatories are required for payment.

“Many of our donors donate via cheque because they are of a generation where new technology can be challenging for them or they don’t have access to it. Asking people to make a donation via internet banking often leaves them feeling powerless.”

The Hospice has faced additional costs with the implementation of a telehealth programme, and buying equipment for patients and staff to stay connected remotely.

“In fact we increased our connection with patients by 22% (to 5190 virtual connections by phone and video) so we learnt a lot about how we might be more efficient at providing our service.

“One of the hardest things for us at the Hospice is that we’ve had to say goodbye to our volunteers for a while. Our volunteers add so much heart and energy to our work with patients, and we are really missing the contribution they make. Thankfully we’ve been able to welcome them back to the shops this week.”

Despite the challenges, Alderton said his team would continue to work hard.

Our Hospice Inpatient Unit in Newtown remained open throughout, providing safe and compassionate care for patients.  Community nursing and therapy teams have been in constant contact with patients, still visiting them when necessary. So patients have been ‘visited’ by doctors and nurses using telecommunications and virtual technology through the new telehealth programme.

A specially-established team of staff and eight volunteers has made sure that the welfare of patients at home is looked after – that they have necessities like heating, medication, and food.

ENDS

To donate to Mary Potter Hospice’s online annual appeal please go to: https://marypotter.org.nz/support-us/annual-appeal/

Note: Mary Potter Hospice is Wellington’s hospice, serving the people of Wellington, Porirua and Kāpiti.  Our service is provided free-of-charge thanks to receiving less than half of our funding from Government, and the rest from the community.