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Hard times for Hospice

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STALLED Along with having their charity shops closed, Mayo Roscommon Hospice have also been unable to hold fundraising events due to Covid restrictions. Martina Jennings, CEO, Mayo Roscommon Hospice is pictured with special guest Síle Seoige at one of those annual events, the Mayo Roscommon Hospice Ladies Luncheon at the Lodge at Ashford Castle, back in 2018.  
Pic: Keith Heneghan

Mayo Roscommon Hospice down over €700,000 due to shop closures

Oisín McGovern

THE closure of Mayo-Roscommon Hospice’s 12 charity shops cost the organisation over €700,000 in 2020. That’s according to their CEO Martina Jennings, who says the shops are ‘the backbone of the charity’.
Mayo Roscommon Hopice funded palliative care services to over 1,000 terminally ill patients last year. It has nine shops in Mayo and three in Roscommon.
When coupled with the cancellation of all non-virtual fundraisers, the closure of these shops under Level 5 restrictions has been a ‘massive blow’ to the charity.
“We closed first on March 12, and that was a big shock, because all fundraising events were cancelled as well, for what we thought initially was going to be three weeks, but we all felt it was going to go on much longer,” Martina tells The Mayo News.
“We didn’t reopen until June 8, and then the six-week lockdown in October was a second blow, so we were closed for 18 weeks altogether.
“It remains to be seen how long this current lockdown will go on for, and I fear it may go on longer than expected,” she adds.

Online fundraising
With many of their traditional fundraising avenues cut off, Martina says the Hospice has received huge support from online donations and social media campaigns.
“So many people went online and donated, and ran virtual fundraisers for us, and set up GoFundMe pages. Without that we wouldn’t have been able to continue to fund palliative care services, nor would we have been able to commence the building of the Roscommon hospice. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who supported us. People that normally wouldn’t have gone online have gone to www.hospice.ie and donated.
“Our Christmas cards and candles for our ‘Shine A Light’ campaign all sold out online thankfully, but coming back after Christmas and having the shops closed is a big blow.”
Throughout the pandemic, Mayo Roscommon Hospice has continued to provide palliative care and counselling to terminally ill people and their families, 43 percent of whom were non-cancer cases.
Building work on their Roscommon hospice has also temporarily ceased due to the closure of most construction sites, however the build is ahead of schedule and is expected to be completed by the end of summer 2021.
While having to fundraise and work remotely has been challenging, Martina says that fundraising virtually has been a huge learning curve for everyone, and has been more successful than expected.
 “The service provided by the palliative care teams is invaluable to the patients and their families, and leaves a lasting impact during the most difficult time in their lives. It is because of this service that people fundraise for us, and it gives their wider family and communities an opportunity to support them.”
She continues: “For example, the Kilmovee 10k would normally raise €5,000 but couldn’t go ahead last year. However, local girl Eloise McDonnell decided to do it in her communion dress in memory of her dad, and raised an incredible €32,000. Similarly, The Ronan Clarke Run in Killala went ahead virtually, thanks to Killala GAA and the Clarke family, and raised over €20,000, which was just fantastic. These are just two examples of the amazing virtual fundraisers that were organised for us … it is hard to put into words how grateful we are to everyone, and what a difference they made to the hospice.”

Efficiency
The Hollymount native also says virtual fundraising is much more efficient, as there is less administration.
She adds: “Social media and online platforms such as GoFundMe or iDonate, have made it very easy to donate to charity. You can reach out to people that you could never reach out to before. It is also important to say that 100 percent of all fundraised income to Mayo Roscommon Hospice goes directly to the service or towards the build of our hospices.”
While insisting that their shops need to reopen as soon as possible, Martina says the health and safety of the organisation’s staff and volunteers are a priority.
“Our priority has to be safety of the customers, our volunteers, staff, and their families, so we understand it and support all public health measures. All of this will pass, and we look forward to opening our doors again, and welcoming back our regular and new customers. Our priority now is to continue fund palliative care services and to finish the Roscommon Hospice. We can only do this with people donating online at hospice.ie or with virtual fundraisers. While our Hospice office in Knock is closed during restrictions, we are still contactable on 094 88666 or info@hospice.ie.

ILH 40084-21-02 Hastings Benefit MPU v4