Jonathan at his most recent visit to Willow Wood last month (November 2023)
Jonathan at his most recent visit to Willow Wood last month (November 2023)

Christmas is all about love, and giving, and few place embody that locally better than Willow Wood Hospice.


Willow Wood is such a part of life in Tameside that it is easy to think it has always been with us, and always will be. It’s a special and important place that means a great deal to a lot of people. Because of that I often find many constituents are surprised to find out hospices are not directly funded as part of the NHS, and must therefore raise significant funds locally to keep going.


Since first opening in 1999 Willow Wood has always had huge support across Tameside to do this. Initiatives like the Willow Wood Lottery, and the high street shops across the borough and in Glossop, are very successful. But each year Willow Wood costs around £2.8 million to run which is clearly significant. After the pandemic, and during a cost of living crisis, raising a large chunk of this is no easy feat.


Across Greater Manchester there are eight adult hospices and two specifically for children. Their core funding varies considerably as each has it’s own history. But on average, two thirds of an adult’s hospice income and four fifths of a children’s hospice income is achieved through fundraising. I find this quite remarkable for such a critical service that is central to good end of life care.


It’s also important to say however that Willow Wood provides much more than just this traditional role. It now also provides a range of well-utilised day services, dementia support, and bereavement counselling. It is a very calming and relaxed environment. If you’ve never been I would strongly encourage a visit, where you’ll soon see what an asset it is.


Long-term this funding situation for hospices does not seem sustainable. As our population gets older, demand for what hospices do will surely only increase. But given there is still no real long -term plan in place for a national system of adequate social care, national hospice funding is likely quite far off.


Until that time let’s make sure we value everything that Willow Wood does, including supporting it in any way we can, even in difficult times.


Whether it’s through playing the Willow Wood Lottery, supporting events, donating to the shops or volunteering, it will make a big difference and ensure this vital institution continues to be there for everyone who needs it.


Dignity at the end of life is vital, but sadly, not inevitable. Willow Wood brings peace in place of fear, calm instead of stress, and  comfort to relatives through the toughest hours. To me that’s a cause worth supporting.

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