Our soon-to-be launched pop-up charity shop is the talk of the town and, as you read this, it’s all hands on deck for the opening of the new store in the former Toys ‘R’ Us building at Western Approach on 4 March 2019!

The pop-up shop, will not only be selling good quality secondhand furniture to raise funds for our expert care but will have dedicated space for ‘Herd HQ’, home of our Elmer project.

Be sure to visit the new store!

One of the most enjoyable and inspiring ways people raise funds for St Luke’s is through our popular Open Gardens scheme each spring and summer, when the gates of gorgeous gardens across Devon and Cornwall are thrown open to the public in aid of our charity.

This year, Open Gardens will be extra special as it reaches its tenth anniversary! Launching on Mothering Sunday – 31 March – with the opening of the stunning gardens at spectacular Gnaton Hall in Yealmpton – the season includes a diverse selection of beautiful gardens chosen to inspire and delight.

The success of Open Gardens is thanks to the garden owners and our hard-working volunteers, and you can see all that’s in store by picking up a copy of the brand new brochure. This special tenth anniversary edition is made all the more covetable due to the charming painting featured on the cover.

The vibrant image is the work of globally renowned Plymouth-based artist Brian Pollard, who is a Patron of St Luke’s. What’s more, Brian has very generously donated the original and there’s a chance to win it in the Open Gardens raffle, raising even more much-needed funds for us!

We’re so grateful to Brian for his support – not only has he previously designed Christmas cards for St Luke’s but he has painted one of the elephant sculptures for this summer’s Elmer’s Big Parade.

So, pick up your copy of the brochure and start planning your garden outings. There are so many treasures to discover, including gardens not normally open to the public and many include plant sales. See you there!

View the brochure online.

When we are extolling the benefits of volunteering with St Luke’s, we often focus on the opportunity to gain new skills and hence be more attractive to employers, plus the well-being boost volunteering in the community can bring.

So, it was with great pride and delight that we heard about two people, Mia Ward-Edwards and Claire Squires, who have recently made the transition from volunteers to members of staff right here with St Luke’s, after they proved themselves such great assets and shone in their job interviews.

At Turnchapel, where she is a familiar face at our Driftwood Café and on the wards, Mia has gone from volunteer to paid member of staff with the Catering team. For the 20-year-old, who was living with anxiety so severe it resulted in panic attacks and fits – a condition that started while studying for her A levels – taking the step of joining as a volunteer was in itself understandably a challenge. However, with the support of both her employment advisor and staff at St Luke’s, plus some prior experience in the catering industry, she went from strength to strength and has recently secured 16 hours of paid employment per week with our charity.

As well as serving in the café, Mia’s role includes helping with food preparation and stock-taking, as well as providing a catering service to patients on the wards.

She said: “The experience I gained as a volunteer has been so valuable and I’m thrilled to now be a staff member on the team. Everyone has made me feel safe and calm, and I love that my role has a positive impact on our patients, too. Volunteering has really boosted my confidence and helped me overcome my anxiety, and I’m excited that I will also be mentoring new volunteers who might also be able to go on to paid employment.

“Before I started volunteering, I thought I would never be able to work again, but now I’m looking forward to my first pay packet!”

Meanwhile Claire – who volunteered for 18 months in our charity shop near her home in Estover – has recently been appointed to the full-time post of Shop Assistant in our soon-to-be-launched pop-up charity store selling secondhand furniture at the former Toys ‘R’ Us building.

For Claire, who remembers the compassion St Luke’s showed when caring for her much-loved late mum, joining our charity as a volunteer was a natural move when she was looking for an opportunity to make a difference locally.

She said: “It all fell into place. I wanted to give something back and then the St Luke’s shop opened up right on my doorstep. It seemed like fate to me.”

While helping at Estover, Claire received the support and encouragement of Shop Manager Marie Young and gained her NVQ in retail and diploma in management. Alongside the on-the-job experience she gained in customer service there, this put her in a strong position to apply for the paid role she has recently started.

She said: “I loved working in the Estover shop and am so grateful for the experience and qualifications I gained. It’s so good that if the right opportunity comes up and you’re well suited to the role, St Luke’s will recruit from within. I’m really looking forward to using my experience of serving customers and replenishing stock in a brand new venture for St Luke’s. It’s really exciting!”

Learn more about volunteering opportunities at St Luke’s.

For most of us, our birthday is a special day but among St Luke’s supporters are those who use the occasion to help others, giving it extra meaning.

Big-hearted student Adam Williams from Plymouth did just that recently, with friends and family donating so generously to his ‘birthday fundraiser’ on Facebook that he smashed his £1,000 target and reached an amazing £1,500!

Adam’s fundraising was prompted by his desire to celebrate the life of his beloved mum, Keryn Pope, and give something back to St Luke’s, who looked after Keryn in her final days before she sadly passed away, in 2016.

Adam said: “Mum was such a special person, always putting others before herself, and I’ll forever be grateful to St Luke’s for the care they gave.

“The wonderful way they looked after mum meant we got to spend those precious last days with her at home. Having her back from hospital meant so much to us all, and this is my way of saying thank you.”

We’re so grateful to Adam and everyone who donated. At his request, the money will be added to the St Luke’s Celebrate a Life Tribute Fund set up by Keryn’s husband Mark in memory of her.

Here’s how to set up your very own fundraiser on Facebook.

So committed are the kind-hearted folk who get behind our charity that sometimes – thanks to their passion and hard work, plus the generosity of those who lend support – the event they organise in support of St Luke’s becomes a hotly anticipated annual fixture in the city’s calendar.

Rockfest – the two-day live music extravaganza enjoyed by hundreds each year at Crash Manor – is a shining example, and this Easter weekend will see the popular event reach its tenth anniversary. It will be a poignant milestone for Cuz Cussen, the event’s founder and organiser, whose love for his late mum Dot, and his gratitude for the compassion with which St Luke’s looked after her, Cuz and his dad Don, inspired Rockfest.

Powerhouse Cuz always dreamed big, determining to raise £100,000, a titan of a total to support our specialist care.

And, with £90,000 already raised in memory of Dot thanks to the following Rockfest has built up over the years, Cuz issuing a rallying call to live music lovers to unite for this year’s weekender, on 20 and 21 April, which features 19 bands ranging from rock to reggae and from punk to ska.

Cuz said: “Mum was awesome. She was always looking out for others, whether family or neighbours. And she made the best pasties in the world – never matched in the 11 years she’s been gone, sadly!

“St Luke’s looked after her in the very best way, and she was able to pass away peacefully, surrounded by family. I can’t thank them enough for what they did in our time of need and with continued help from generous fans of live music, reaching the £100,000 target is within touching distance!”

A huge thank you to Cuz, his family and all who support Rockfest, and if you like live music, be sure to be there and enjoy Easter weekend in an electric atmosphere while helping Cuz reach that terrific total.

You can get tickets on the door for £10 per day. For more information, check out the official page.

Cuz Cussen is a man on a mission, with precious memories of his much-loved mum powering him towards his target of raising an incredible £100,000 for the charity closest to his heart.

Big-hearted Cuz, who lives in Mutley with his wife Lyn and son Tyler, is the force behind Rockfest, the annual live music extravaganza that has seen Plymouth rock out in aid of St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth – which cared so compassionately for his mum Dot – every year since 2009, raising a staggering £90,000 so far.

Now Cuz is issuing a rallying call to live music lovers to unite and enjoy the 19 bands lined up over this year’s Easter weekend (20 and 21 April) at Crash Manor, Plymouth. With his unwavering determination and their enthusiastic support, he is set to smash his £100,000 target, giving St Luke’s a big boost towards the £4 million it needs to raise each year to help people who desperately need its care.

Diagnosed with cancer, Dot was looked after by the charity, first at home and later at Turnchapel, before sadly she passed away in 2008. St Luke’s was also there to support Cuz – her only child – and his dad Don, to whom she was married nearly 50 years, through their very difficult time.

Cuz said: “Mum was awesome. Kind, caring and generous, she was always looking out for others, whether it was family or her neighbours in Devonport, and did so much for them as well as holding down her job as a cleaner at Penlee Secondary School. And she made the best pasties in the world – never matched in the 11 years she’s been gone, sadly!

“St Luke’s was such a source of comfort for us all, as well as the outstanding way they took care of Mum’s medical needs. She was looked after in the very best way, with her dignity respected, and was able to pass away peacefully, surrounded by her family. I can’t thank St Luke’s enough for what they did in our time of need, but with the continued help of loyal friends and other generous fans of live music I can have the privilege of giving something back. ”

Packed with fantastic bands playing everything from rock to reggae and punk to metal, and with great raffle prizes too, Rockfest is a great opportunity to enjoy the Easter weekend in an electric atmosphere while helping Cuz reach that Titan of a total.

The doors open at Crash Manor at 1pm, ready for the first band at 2pm. No ticket required, admission is £10.00 per day. Hand stamps will be given which will allow those attending to come and go on the day.

Visit the official page for full listings of bands.

*bands correct at time of print, subject to change.

Cancer can be one of the hardest experiences a person will go through.

This 4 February, World Cancer Day empowers all of us across the world to show support, raise our collective voice, take personal action and press our governments to do more. World Cancer Day is the only day on the global health calendar where we can all unite and rally under the one banner of cancer in a positive and inspiring way.

Here at St Luke’s we are here to provide compassionate support to patients and their families when they need us most.

Last year, 75% of the people our nurses cared for had terminal cancer. It’s your support that ensures their final weeks are pain free and full of wonderful memories with their families.

#WorldCancerDay #IAmAndIWill

*source PopNAT 2016.

Local charity St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth is to move into the empty Toys ‘R’ Us store on Western Approach.

Plymouth City Council and the charity have just agreed a temporary lease arrangement which will see a pop-up charity shop set up within the store.

As well as stocking furniture, the shop will also be the artists hub for Elmer’s Big Parade Plymouth, before the 40 individually designed Elmers hit the city this Summer.

St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth Commercial Director, Mike Dukes said: “This is a very exciting venture for us and will be our largest shop in Devon and Cornwall.

Our shops provide a vital source of fundraising to enable us to deliver compassionate care to patients and their families when they need us most. We estimate that we will generate enough income to support over 200 patients and their families with a whole package of care at home in the duration of the lease.

But we can’t do it alone, donations of good quality furniture and sofas are urgently needed, we also need volunteers that are so vital to the operation of the shop. We aim to be open on Monday 4 March, but donations are welcome now, just visit the website or give us a call on 01752 964455 for information about our free 7 day a week collection service.”

The Council acquired the long-hold lease on the building last year after Toys ‘R’ Us went into administration and the shop shut its doors.

The Council recently made the store’s 165 car parking spaces available to the public to park in addition to the 880 spaces available in the Council-owned Western Approach multi storey car park.

Councillor Mark Lowry, Cabinet member for Finance and City Centre Champion said: “We have long term plans to regenerate Colin Campbell Court and Millbay, which was why the building presented such a great opportunity for us.

“But regeneration takes time so it’s great to see an empty building brought back into use while we plot and plan the next chapter of the city centre.

“Having the building occupied is better for the fabric of the building, but it also means we can encourage more people down here and helps a great charity to carry on with their work.”

The other section of the building is currently rented by British Heart Foundation. They have been consulted about their new neighbours.

A local father who’s a familiar face at our Plympton Distribution Centre, where he devotes several days a week to volunteering with our Fundraising team, has openly shared his personal experience of having a terminal illness and highlighted the importance of conversations around advance planning in such a challenging situation.

Scott Prideaux, who received his diagnosis November 2017, said: “When I was diagnosed I was keen to find out as much information as possible about pancreatic cancer and through social media I tried to find people in similar situations so I could gain an idea of what my future might look like. While there’s an awful lot of information out there, I quickly discovered that there are very few men I could contact and have that conversation with. It is mainly women who are openly discussing these things online.

“It also became clear that the way ahead is uncertain, that there are no rules for this type of thing. I could have another year – or it could be five.”

It was a desire to ‘do something positive and give something back’ that resulted in Scott deciding to volunteer with our charity, generously giving time to help staff with a myriad of tasks, from preparations for events such as Men’s Day Out and drafting thank-you letters to our supporters.

He said: “It has really helped me to have something else to focus on other than my health, which I think is important.”

Crucially though, Scott has also found time to consider his future wishes, talk openly with his wife and children and involve them in his planning, which has helped provide more peace of mind for all of them at a vulnerable time.

He said: “It’s important to have everything documented and any issues put to bed, so I have organised my finances and moved all our utility accounts into my wife’s name. I also had a will drawn up during St Luke’s ‘Make a Will Week’, where local solicitors give an hour of their time for free in return for a donation to the charity.

“I think in situations like mine, it’s really important to talk to your partner and also to involve your children so that everyone is with you.”

Scott also shared his feelings about having a terminal diagnosis yet receiving underlying messages around ‘fighting it’, when the power to change the diagnosis is not within his control.

He said: “I want to ask, how do you suggest I do that? I can’t see it and I can’t punch it – there’s nothing tangible. What I can do is research and ask questions. And I can take comfort and support from what I’ve received from oncologists and nurses to make myself appreciate that I’ve had what there is and that I’m doing all I can.”

Learn more about volunteering at St Luke’s.

The compassion with which St Luke’s looks after people is about far more than hands-on medical care. Our approach is holistic, so it also includes emotional and spiritual support for patients and their families at the most difficult of times.

The Social Care team, which includes both staff and volunteers, comes alongside patients who request their help in very challenging circumstances and also their family members, who are referred if they need support as they navigate their way through the loss of their loved one.

The team sees patients and families in their own homes, but also at GP surgeries and at the specialist unit, too.

Speaking with Jutta Widlake, Head of Social Care, one thing is very clear – there is no ‘normal’ when it comes to the feelings people have when experiencing grief. “Am I ‘doing it’ right?” and “How long will these feelings last?” are questions frequently asked by people who are bereaved, but everyone’s reactions are different.

Jutta said: “Grief can be very intense and it is common for people to fear they’re losing their minds, so it’s important we’re there to listen and reassure them that many people feel this way but, leaving aside very few exceptions, whatever is ‘normal’ is what’s natural for them as an individual.

“Emotional distress is extremely common, but it is not unusual for some people to keep so busy that their grief can be delayed, or stifled, for a few weeks while they organise the funeral, or sometimes for many years. It is not always the case that we will see them soon after the death of the person they lost.
“At this time of year, though, people can be feeling particularly anxious. Perhaps they have had family around them over the Christmas period and busied themselves, but now there’s more time to reflect and they’re feeling their loss more acutely. Or perhaps Christmas felt so lonely without their loved one that facing the year ahead seems incredibly daunting.

“It’s common for anniversaries and family events to be particularly challenging so sometimes, if it feels appropriate, we encourage them to make new traditions that include memories of the person they’ve lost but help them move forward.”

Asked to pinpoint qualities and skills staff and volunteers need to make a difference, Jutta said: “Essentially we are facilitators who engage with people, firstly by listening to them, validating their experiences. Sometimes, there are very complex issues – for example, family conflicts or safeguarding concerns – so we help them work through those, too. The team continuously develop their specialist communication skills and use approaches such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy. Counselling skills can be very helpful, too.

“We need to be empathic; the feeling that they’ve been heard can be incredibly helpful to those we support. In addition, we can assist in practical ways. Our Social Care Support Workers often help the person navigate the complicated benefits system to access their full entitlement, and our volunteers help with shopping or creating a bucket list so the person can look to the future.

“It’s very rewarding when you hear that you’ve played a part in enabling someone to face the future with hope. And, if we feel there is another agency that would either be more appropriate or complement our service, we will work in partnership.”

Among the volunteers is Adrian Frost, who was inspired by the hospice care his brother received in Cornwall at St Julia’s and began giving his time as a van driver for St Luke’s before training as a befriender and bereavement visitor.

Adrian sees these as two sides of the same coin – while the befriending is about coming alongside people in their last days, helping the bereaved involves supporting them as they face a new future.

Over the years, Adrian’s kindness, listening ear and practical skills have helped many people, whether he’s visited them at home or taken them for a drive, recognising some people find it easier to share their feelings outside their everyday environment.

Adrian said: “Nature can be so helpful, so sometimes we spend time outdoors by the sea or in the countryside. It’s not always about talking – silence can be a powerful tool. Being comfortable with it is important as, of course, is being open and interested in what the person has to say.

“Some people find just one visit is all they require, while others I see several times. My role is about helping them take their first steps after their bereavement, until they can move forward more confidently. So, I could be helping them with practicalities, or simply listening. I can’t imagine my life without this role now, and I consider it a privilege to be allowed into their lives.”

Learn more about our social care and bereavement support.