Urgent appeal for help so nobody dies alone in Stevenage’s Lister Hospital this Christmas

Lesley Matthews, who passed away at Stevenage's Lister Hospital earlier this year, is pictured here with her grandson Eddie. ...

Lesley Matthews, who passed away at Stevenage's Lister Hospital earlier this year, is pictured here with her grandson Eddie. Picture: Courtesy of the East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals' Charity - Credit: Archant

Nobody should have to die alone in hospital, especially at Christmas – that’s the message from the charity behind an urgent appeal to ensure a service for dying patients at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital can continue.

Since 2016, the Butterfly Volunteer Service has supported patients at the end of their life when families are unable to be there – with funding from the East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity.

Working alongside East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s palliative care team, specially-trained volunteers provide companionship and comfort to both patients and their families.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sadly meant more families have not been able to spend those last precious moments with their loved ones, but the Butterfly volunteers have been there to make sure nobody faces the end of their life alone.

Emma Matthews’ mum, Lesley, passed away at Lister earlier this year aged 71, and Emma and her family found the Butterfly service invaluable.


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Emma said: “There was somebody to sit with our mum, when we had to nip away, so she didn’t have to be alone. They wanted to know all about mum, what she liked to do, what she found comforting. They were an absolutely wonderful guiding hand in a horrible situation.

“For us it was a real comfort, but imagine what it is like for somebody else who doesn’t have family, who doesn’t have friends or someone who is able to come and comfort them in the darkest of moments. This is an absolutely invaluable service, particularly with all that we’re facing with COVID-19.”

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The Butterfly Volunteer Service costs more than £40,000 a year to run and its three-year funding has just come to an end, so the East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity needs the public’s help to continue the service to ensure nobody dies alone in hospital this Christmas.

Beth McNeill, head of charity, said: “We know how important the Butterfly Volunteer Service is for patients at the end of their life and for families, particularly at a time when so many can’t be there for those last precious moments. We need funds urgently to be able to continue this vital service.

“If you can, please help us make sure nobody faces the end of their life alone by making a donation at enhhcharity.org.uk/butterfly.”

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