Dame Cicely Saunders founded St Christopher's Hospice in 1967 as the first hospice linking expert pain and symptom control, compassionate care, teaching and clinical research. It promotes and provides skilled and compassionate palliative care to a diverse population of 1.5 million people in the London.
Additionally, St Christopher's extends its teaching and influence internationally through extensive programmes of education and research and continues to be a pioneer in the field of palliative medicine.
We spent the day removing a huge mass of ivy that was growing all over the garden main fence and building, in total we stuffed about 40 garden sacks of ivy and cut the remaining ivy roots so it's easier to pull next year.
Inside the main hospice is a wonderful memory tree where family and friends can add an engraved brass leaf in memory of a loved one. They get tarnished over time, so a few of us removed, polished and returned each one safely so next time they visit their leaf will be sparkling!
Fundraising this year is down, so the team at St Christopher's are doing a mass mailing for their Christmas raffle, so we stuffed and sealed over 2000 mail outs to help boost funds.
Oak Lodge is a special school maintained by Wandsworth Council Education Department for deaf boys and girls between 11 and 19 years of age. The school has around 80 pupils, of all backgrounds and abilities, many of whom find themselves in the UK through extraordinary circumstances and many of whom don't speak English as their first language.
During a week long project, Oak Lodge and Tamar worked together to help develop the outside learning and play areas of the school. This included building an outdoor amphitheatre for use as a classroom, play and performance area, renovating a vegetable patch area, re-glazing and repairing a green house, replanting and developing a fishpond, building a mural wall.
Most of the work was done together by students, Oak Lodge teachers and the Tamar team, working alongside each other. Tamar had the opportunity to learn British Sign Language from special workshop sessions, taught by the students, and applying this learning throughout the activities during the course of the week.
Yue Miao is led and managed by Mr Woo who started the home to care for young people with mental illness and physical disabilities. The ground floor is predominantly classrooms and dining with the second and third floor mainly bedrooms for the children and staff.
The key issue for the school was rainwater getting into the building through a leaking roof. On the wettest days, a number of the beds are unusable.
Vuyani is in the middle of Guguletu, one of the biggest townships in Cape Town. The school was built in 1961 and teaches 750 children aged between 5 and 11. Despite the surrounding poverty, the school copes remarkably well with the lack of funds. They utilise whatever they can, the school fence is made from the old legs of desks, and the atmosphere is warm and very friendly. We were struck by their resourcefulness and willingness to help themselves and make life better for pupils and teachers alike.
In 2007 we visited Vuyani Pre-Primary School in the Guguletu township and spent a week with the school building a new classroom and toilet block. The 60 children in the 2 classes were using one small classroom, which was very cramped and not equipped for their needs. We also constructed a jungle gym and helped with renovations in the school including replacing their blackboards and basketball court. In order to cover the costs of the renovation work we raised £23,000 through donations and charity events.
The relationship continued when the Cape Town office went back for a week in 2008 to lay paving around the classroom and to fit a fence around the Grade R play area.
In 2009 the team returned for the third year. This time they constructed bookshelves for all the classrooms, as well as filling them with books for the children. The team also added to the outdoor area by constructing a seesaw and a shaded area to provide some cover for the hot summer months. It was a real delight to work alongside the teachers and pupils again and a great way to cement the ongoing relationship.