As always, I am so pleased to have the opportunity to write to thank you all for your support in many different ways for the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH). From a tiny hospice with a few children we have helped it, over the years, to develop into a service that looks after almost 200 children and families per year and trains, or has trained, children’s hospice specialists from all over the former Soviet Union. It is a huge achievement and part of that achievement has most definitely been ours with your unstinting and generous help.
2016 saw the opening of BCH’s brand new building in the suburbs of Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Built on land generously donated by the president, this lovely state-of-the-art building named Forest Glade cost over two million pounds to build, £250,000 of which was donated by the Maurice and Hilda Laing Charitable Trust. The official opening, in June this year, was attended by Elizabeth Harley and Andrea Currie of the Laing Trust as well as by all 5 Friends of BCH trustees with their other halves and by our long time friend and member of the BCH Advisory Council Peter Ellis, CEO of Richard House Children’s Hospice in London. We were all self-funding. By August the new day centre had swung into action and September saw the first in-patients arrive for respite care in the ten well-appointed single bedrooms with en-suite facilities. The day after the official opening, the new training centre hosted its first seminar. Peter Ellis was the leading speaker and spoke about community involvement in the palliative care of children.
Under a contract signed by the Belarusian Ministry of Health and BCH, the Ministry covers the costs of running the in-patient department and the day centre. This leaves BCH to concentrate on its core competences of running the At Home Palliative Care Service and the Palliative Training Centre. BCH is also keeping its own fundraisers who will now be able to channel all their energies into raising funds to cover staff salaries and other costs associated with the at-home service. It is hoped that the training facility will be able to generate an income by renting out its rooms to other groups and institutions for their own seminars and training courses.
Our own future plans are to leave more and more of the hospice staff salaries to the BCH fundraisers in Minsk and to concentrate on helping to develop children’s physiotherapy there. Friends of BCH is being joined by a new trustee, Deb Hunt, a qualified physiotherapist, who for the last sixteen years before retirement worked at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital (now Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust), becoming Physiotherapy Services Manager for its four hospital sites. We have recently recruited an experienced children's physiotherapist from Christopher's Hospice to work with us on developing this programme. Pam will come out to BCH with us in March 2017 to make the initial visit.
As usual, our plans depend heavily on the continued generosity of our supporters, although we too will continue to work hard holding fundraising events throughout the year. Thank you again very, very much for enabling this work by your support. From the bottom of our hearts we wish you all the best at Christmas and for a happy 2017. Looking into the eyes of young patients at BCH we are again and again convinced that what we do is hugely worthwhile!
Daryl Ann Hardman
Chairwoman of Friends of BCH