I was shocked and amazed by the extraordinary response from the public who raised around £1.4 million following the fire at Manchester Dogs’ Home.
Like so many others I was moved by the tragic death of 60 dogs, even though I don’t own a dog myself.
The appeal was led by the M.E.N. [Manchester Evening News] and its website, prompting a radio phone-in to ask why we care so much about pets and animals, possibly at the exclusion of people.
It’s a fascinating question for me as the head of an organisation which is always pleading for funds to care for people in Greater Manchester with life-limiting illnesses.
However, the generous British public has an amazing record for rallying round special causes, and I’m sure that if our hospice had a crisis then the public would also rush to back us.
In fact, I recall that a hospice in the Lake District had a flood a couple of years ago and the response was terrific.
Dogs versus people?
However, I do find it hard to explain that kind of reaction to the fire. Surely, we have to love our fellow humans as much if not more? If it’s dogs versus people then it’s got to be people every time.
I know we aren’t just defined by our family relationships. We’ve had dogs and cats visit hospice patients and a donkey even turned up here once. That might seem strange but the patient wanted to see the animal which meant so much to her before she died.
All our services are free and only a third of our income comes from government and it does make me wonder whether we need to be bolder in our ask for money.
Many national charities spend a significant amount of their income raising awareness whereas north west hospices at the heart of communities spend only a fraction by comparison.
When people donate money we’re aware they want us to spend as much as possible on patient and family care. In our case it’s the equivalent of 92p in every pound.
The big concern is that with changing demographics more elderly people with more complex needs are going to need our services. We desperately want to reach out to more people but we’d need more money.