A Lichfield community whose residents joined forces to help each other through difficult times, has received one of the first ever charter awards of its kind in the UK for compassion.
The charity Compassionate Communities UK (CC-UK) presented Whittington and Fisherwick with the prestigious award on Monday, November 1, as a surprise to coincide with the first International Compassionate Communities Day.
A compassionate community is one where communities actively encourage and support one another during life’s most challenging times such as those relating to serious illness, death and bereavement.
Members of the Whittington and Fisherwick Good Neighbour Scheme have been a focal point in the village over the past six years supporting elderly, vulnerable and disabled residents. They have been supported by the parish council and a range of groups and businesses within the village including the Co-op, the Scouts, the Women’s Institute, the pharmacy, Woodhouse Farm and many others.
St Giles was one of the first hospices in the UK to commence a community development programme, recognising that, alongside specialist palliative care, communities needed to be supported in order to have the confidence and resilience to provide support for each other. As a result, the Good Neighbour Scheme and St Giles Hospice have been working successfully together for a number of years leading to the new accreditation.
Peter Ellis, Chair of Trustees for CC-UK, said: “To achieve Compassionate Community status requires demonstration that a place, in this case a village, is coming together, across different sectors, schools, businesses, care providers and most importantly citizens to support each other on issues to do with death, dying and loss.
“What is clear in Whittington and Fisherwick is that the Good Neighbour Scheme has become a focus in bringing the community together along with the contribution from St Giles Hospice, the parish council and others. On evaluating the evidence towards accreditation, the panel was very impressed and was in no doubt that the village deserves this award.”
Ian Leech, Community Engagement Manager at St Giles Hospice, said that, in addition to working with local schools and hosting events, the hospice had provided facilities for community groups to meet as well as delivered sessions on care planning, funeral wishes, dementia friends training and understanding bereavement.
“Any way that we can help and do our bit for the village and for the people who live here, we’ll do it,” said Ian. “Ultimately we want to be a part of Whittington village, not apart from it, and I think we do that very well thanks to the Good Neighbour Scheme.”
Terry Tricker, Chair of Whittington and Fisherwick Good Neighbours said: “It is an honour for the work of our residents to be recognised in this way. Our collaboration with St Giles Hospice has provided additional resources and support for our community and in turn we have supported them in their work on improving end of life care and bereavement support out in communities. There are so many people to thank in relation to this award, it is a wonderful community to be part of.”
Garry Hyde, Chair of the Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council said: “This is a fantastic award and I’m so pleased the hard work of all our village groups and residents has been recognised in this way.
“The neighbourhood has always pulled together and looked after the community – even more so since the COVID pandemic so this award means the world to us.”
Whittington resident Val Brocklebank said volunteers for the Good Neighbour Scheme had been particularly supportive during lockdown, popping round with treats and taking residents to and from vaccination appointments.
“I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she said. “The scheme has given me some human contact and company. I think they’re the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened in this village and we’re very fortunate to have them.”
About St Giles Hospice
St Giles Hospice is a registered charity offering high-quality specialist care free of charge for people living with diseases which are terminal or incurable as well as providing support for their families and carers.
Patients come from across the hospice’s catchment area, which ranges from Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Atherstone in the east, to Cannock in the west – and from Burton and Uttoxeter in the north, to Sutton Coldfield and Coleshill in the south.
Care is offered at the hospice’s centres in Whittington and Sutton Coldfield and in patients’ own homes across the region.
St Giles spends over £10 million a year providing its specialist services and with little more than a third of this funded by the Government, the registered charity relies heavily on donations and income generation from the local community.
About Compassionate Communities UK
Compassionate Communities UK has been developed to work with communities to build compassion as a major value in life, making a difference in the way we treat each other and exploring how the ‘welfare state’ can change to support communities.
The charity is dedicated to elevating compassion as a primary value in life with the ethos that love, laughter and friendship help us to be healthier, happier and to live longer.
Its work implements strategies to address the consequences of ageing, serious illness, caregiving, or loss – complementing the efforts of health promotion activities in national communities through civic engagement and community development, public education, and changes to the social and policy environment.
Its training, consultancy, membership and unique accreditation programme can help communities at any level understand and work towards the benefits of embracing compassion.
The Compassionate Community Charter Award is an accreditation particularly recognising that caring for one another at times of crisis and loss is not simply a task solely for health and social services but is everyone’s responsibility.
For more information visit: https://www.compassionate-communitiesuk.co.uk/
Images: Dr Manjula Patel, CC-UK Trustee, presents Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Council with their Compassionate Community Charter Award