Inspired by the Midlands network started by Ian Leech, Community Engagement & Supportive Care Manager at St Giles Hospice and Alice Spearing, Engagement Officer from St Richard’s Hospice, a similar partnership has launched in the East of England. Devika Chowdhury, Hospice Engagement Lead at Farleigh Hospice in Chelmsford, explains what their aims are.
Following a visit to see Ian and Alice in action, I felt inspired. As part of my new role, I had been travelling to local hospices to learn more about the hospice world and to meet people in similar roles to myself. Everyone I met was interested to keep in touch and offered me such wonderful support that it made sense for us all to benefit from the knowledge that we each hold.
Alice encouraged me to set up something similar closer to home, so I contacted everyone I had met and it quickly became clear that there was interest. In the end, our goal is the same, to provide a high standard of hospice care to those in our community.
On 22 March 2019, individuals from six different hospices in the East of England (Farleigh Hospice, St Clare Hospice, St Francis Hospice, Isabel Hospice, St Helena Hospice and North London Hospice) met for the first time. We discussed our expectations for the quarterly meetings and came up with a plan for what we wanted to look like as a group moving forwards.
Just like the original Midlands Network, this sub group is aimed at those working to:
- Dispel common hospice myths within the community
- Raise awareness of hospice care
- Build relationships with seldom heard groups
- Explore partnership working within the community
Attendees are made up of many different job titles relating to community engagement, including: Community Development, Liaison, Outreach, and Partnerships.
Our aim is to create a space where we can share our learning, best practice and experiences in order to shape and develop our respective work. We have agreed that we would like to use the group as an opportunity to create a good community development strategy. We will do this by focusing on different key areas at each quarterly get together.
One attendee said, “I think it’s going to be a really productive and energetic network.”
Another commented that “it was very helpful and lovely to get to know others doing similar work.”
We are already looking forward to our next meeting, which will be due around mid-June. If you are interested in joining this network, please contact Devika Chowdhury or call 01245 933714.