Back in March 2008 our National Diploma in Fashion & Clothing students created two stunning daffodil headdresses for Marie Curie Cancer Care collectors to wear at fundraising events. Since then staff at the College have visited the hospice and been so impressed that it was decided to explore additional ways to support this incredibly worthwhile charity. The charity’s work is so important to the local community that it has been agreed that the College would make it the official charity for 2009/10 and staff and students would offer their creative talents and time to do all they can to help through numerous initiatives and projects.
Photography Lecturer Trevor Griffiths has a longstanding relationship with the charity having raised funds to help build the Bradford hospice and so it was no surprise that our Photography students have been some of the first to get involved. In November they spent a week as street and studio photographers, taking portraits in exchange for a donation and raised over £300.
However the main focus of their attention is preparing for an exhibition they will mount in February at the Yorkshire Craft Centre, to raise money and awareness for this worthwhile cause. In addition to taking the most creative and commercial photographs that everyone will want to own or give as present, they have to promote the event, raise sponsorship for framing and printing and display their work to maximise sales of framed and unframed prints. The title they have devised, Capture the Moment, evokes the precious quality of life that the charity allows patients and families to enjoy, and also the students’ photography skills.
Brenda Doyle, Community Fundraising Manager for Marie Curie in Bradford, Wharfedale and Craven, came to talk to our students to inspire their fundraising efforts by explaining all about the charity’s invaluable work and to view early progress on the exhibition.
Brenda told them, “Marie Curie Cancer Care is a national charity formed sixty years ago, in the same year as the NHS. We have nine hospices in the UK and employ hundreds of nurses. Bradford is the newest hospice and opened on Leeds Road in 2001, although we have been caring for people in Bradford since the 1960s.
The prevalent image of a hospice is all doom and gloom and where people go to die, however it is actually a much more joyful place. We care for adults aged from the age of eighteen upwards who are terminally ill with cancer or other life threatening illnesses such as MS, Motor Neurone Disease, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and Heart Disease. Terminally ill means there is no cure but as we know from Jane Tomlinson people can live long and very rich lives with this diagnosis.
Some patients just attend our day care facility and it is quite social. Patients who are happy to be at home can still find living with cancer or terminal illness quite isolating. They enjoy activities such as art groups as it is very stimulating so they you don’t think about being ill. We find that many people have never done any art since they left school. One lady told me the only things she had ever painted before were ceilings and skirting boards! We also offer a course for people with COPD so they can learn to cope with it. We treat twelve hundred patients a year and while we can’t get them better we can make them feel better by expertly managing pain relief and offering complimentary therapies including aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, reflexology, relaxation and reiki. Someone who has had cancer for a number of years will have seen an average of thirty-two professionals in that time but we give them individual attention that takes in all their needs. Care as out patients allows them to be at home for much longer.
We have sixteen beds in acute wards for inpatients. Ten rooms are singles and there are shared rooms for those who would benefit from company. All our rooms have door leading on the patio so people can go outside and enjoy the gardens. The drinks trolley goes round before supper, we have an excellent chef and people describe it as being like a five star hotel. Half of our patients are in for two weeks then discharged with pain control and nursing or day care treatment in place. Patients do die with us.
The hospice is very different to any other medical facility as it is smaller, purpose built and provides individual care. Our patients and their families have been told what is happening and visitors are most welcome. We are very flexible to accommodate individual needs and all single rooms have day beds so people can stay overnight if required. It is about making people feel special at a difficult time in their lives. We enable people that come here have happy times with each other.
We offer the kind of care money cannot buy and it is free to all. It costs £8000 per day to run to the hospice and we currently get nearly 50% of our funding from Bradford Health Trust, but this is negotiated every year and cannot be relied on, so fundraising is absolutely crucial.
As a charity we are moving forward all the time and responding to what people want. When someone is dying there is only one chance to get it right or families can be left with the burden of guilt and remorse. Cancer affects so many people. One in three will be affected by it and one in four will die of cancer. Marie Curie nurses go out and spend whole days or nights with people, offering one to one nursing and giving a lot of support for families. We have quite a big team of nurses locally and what we do is very much a team effort. What you are doing to support us is making a difference and I want to thank you on behalf of everyone at the hospice. “
Our students were greatly touched by Brenda’s talk and in turn, she was amazed when they laid some of the photographs they had already taken on the floor for her to look at.
Following the exhibition the College’s grounds will be making a visual impact as our own ‘host of glorious daffodils’ burst into bloom in our ‘Field of Hope’ which will remind everyone travelling on Great Horton Road of the need to support Marie Curie Cancer Care. Brian Curran, Marie Curie’s Area Fundraising Manager for West Yorkshire and Hospice Manager, Jane Edgely came to College on 11th November to oversee the planting.
Jane said “It will look beautiful in spring. It is a marvellous way to make people think about Marie Curie and remember people who have died. It is lovely to be working with the students. Death and dying have been medicalised but it is part of everyday life. We need to normalise death. Young people will all experience bereavement and it is important to give them insights.”
Sohieb Mir, President of the Students’ Union, agreed and promised “We are planning to get students involved in more projects for Marie Curie in the New Year. We are raising awareness and learning lessons for life while making the College environment look nicer.”
Over 2000 bulbs have been donated by Homebase and Dale Landscapes, whose staff volunteered to plant the ‘Field of Hope.’ Nick Calcutt of Dale Landscapes explained “We have worked with Bradford College for over 15 years and do lots of work in Bradford, so we wanted to give something back. Marie Curie do such important work for people in Bradford we wanted to support them and we were delighted to have the opportunity to get involved”.