Shops to close and jobs to be cut as coronavirus hits Staffordshire hospice

An emergency appeal is being launched to save a Staffordshire hospice which cares for around 1,300 people.

Katharine House Hospice
Katharine House Hospice

Katharine House Hospice has announced four of its charity shops will close and at least 20 jobs are under threat due to the financial impact of coronavirus.

The hospice provides free care and support for adults and their families who are coping with progressive illness across mid-Staffordshire and relies on donations and charity shop income for around 75 per cent of its revenue.

However income has dried up during the Covid-19 pandemic. The hospice has had to cancel all of its events, including music festival Strictly Stafford and its Sunrise Walk, and was forced to close its 22 shops in March.

Government support allowed it to balance its books for the first four months of the pandemic and while the hospice had planned for significant reductions in fundraising and retail income, the losses have been much greater than expected.

Katharine House's 200 staff were asked this week to take part in a formal consultation process to reduce operating costs across the organisation, which will involve at least 20 job losses.

Four of the hospice’s charity shops will be closing between October and March as they are unlikely to return to profit, and most others will see reductions in staff hours.

The charity will also be launching an emergency appeal to save its care services.

Local people can help by making a donation at or by shopping at one of the hospice’s shops.

Redundancies 'inevitable'

Chief executive Doctor Richard Soulsby said: “Katharine House like other hospices received additional funding through the spring and early summer via the NHS, local authorities, and through the HMRC furlough scheme. With this aid we continued throughout the pandemic to support local patients and their families, whilst retaining a balanced financial position. After October no further funding will be received.

“It was expected that the reopening of the shops would enable the hospice to be financially sustainable by using our reserves to weather the loss of income due to Covid-19. It is now evident that these reserves will not be sufficient in light of the higher than expected losses in the hospice’s fundraising and retail revenues. The hospice is now faced with difficult decisions regarding its future.

“Our primary concerns are to maintain services for local people and to support our staff and volunteers. Working together we hope to prevent as many redundancies as possible, but some are inevitable.”

Care began in 1989 when a small group of volunteers provided support at home and campaigned for Stafford’s hospice. Since then services have grown at the hospice and in the community and each year it provides free care for around 1,300 local people.

Dr Soulsby added: “We face difficult choices to try to ensure we have a sustainable future, so we can continue caring for as many people as possible in the Stafford and surrounding areas for years to come. We value our people and we realise that that is a very challenging time for all of our teams.

"During the formal consultation process we will be engaging with our staff to examine ways in which we can reduce costs, answer their questions, listen to their views and consider any alternative proposals they put forward. We are all very much in this together and we will do all we can to minimise the impact on care and save jobs, but sadly some staff reductions will be inevitable.”

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