Lewis-Manning Hospice Care in Poole is getting ready to deliver ‘Bags of Kindness’ to their patients and families in East Dorset.

The initiative was thought up by a member of the fundraising team and the charity’s Director of Clinical Services, Ruth Burnhill advised, “We know how difficult lockdown has been for so many of our patients.  It’s been a very isolating experience for them. Not only are they living with the challenges of a life-limiting illness but many are living alone and have hugely missed the social interaction and care that they usually receive by coming in to Day Care at Lewis- Manning Hospice Care.

“We wanted to spread some happiness, cheer them up and offer a distraction to their days. 

“We’ve been thrilled at the generosity shown to us by local businesses donating items for the ‘Bags of Kindness’. The hospice branded hessian jute bags include products kindly received from Lush, chocolates from The Chocolate Boutique Hotel in Bournemouth, copies of Dorset Magazine, Dorset Tea, Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, bottles from the Dorset Ginger company, a selection of jams from Cherry Tree Preserves and some Moores Biscuits. When a local Friends group of volunteers heard about our ‘Bags of Kindness’ idea they decided to kindly sponsor and cover the costs of the bags. We have been overwhelmed by the gratitude shown by local companies and volunteer groups during this difficult time.”

The hospice’s Arts Co-ordinator, Karen England, has written a poem and included some tongue twisters in the bags for the patients to read and try. Karen said “I was inspired to write the poem for the charity’s ‘Bags of Kindness’ because I know the patients are dealing with loneliness and feeling isolated at the moment but wanted to help them focus on the positivity. It’s important that we embrace what we do have, so with this glorious weather we’ve been having and listening to lots of bird’s song I wanted to write about that. I also included some tongue twisters for them to help keep their minds active. Most patients are used to coming into the Day Hospice and can chat to staff and other patients, however they are unable to do this since we have had to temporarily close the hospice. Therefore the tongue twisters will get them speaking and have fun at the same time.”

Lewis-Manning Hospice Care CEO Clare Gallie commented, “Many of the hospice charity’s patients are battling with loneliness and isolation during this difficult time. One patient was referred to Lewis-Manning and was finding the isolation hard to cope with. A member of the clinical team called her and introduced themselves and let her know what Lewis-Manning Hospice Care would be able to do to help at this time. The patient was low in mood, fed up with life and only had a short time left to live. They had a phone call again a few days later and the patient was able to have a moan about how bad they felt and a sympathetic ear to listen to their problems. On the third call there was a distinct change in mood and the nurse asked if they felt better or if there had been a change in medication that may have helped feel a little better. The answer was simply “you have weaved your magic’.’ When the nurse asked what they meant, the reply was the hospice’s support and the opportunity to voice their feelings in a safe way, to have a rant about things and know they were not being judged had helped make them feel like they were able to face it all. The work and vital services that Lewis-Manning Hospice Care provides is priceless to the patients dealing with life-limiting illnesses across East Dorset and the charity plans to help battle their loneliness and put smiles on their faces, one bag of kindness at a time.

“This project is something the charity would like to expand on in the future, so if any local volunteer groups or businesses would like to get involved in this initiative please speak to a member of our fundraising team on fundraisingteam@lewis-manning.org.uk or call 01202 708470.”

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