THERE were celebrations all round today after a grant of more than £430,000 from the Big Lottery Fund was awarded to St Nicholas Hospice Care.

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The money will go towards care and support in the community over two years from April 2013.

While the Bury St Edmunds-baseid hospice still relies on fundraising from the community to raise most of its income, the £431,212 grant is a huge relief to the hospice which has seen the uptake of services increase over the last year.

The money will help to build on their community model of care, offering nursing care, volunteer support and outreach care to help patients and families at home, in line with their preferences.

The grant will support a newly launched service, First Contact, which acts as the first point of contact for someone who has received a diagnosis of a life-shortening illness.

The service aims to help people to understand and access the wide variety of services available through the hospice and in the community.

The grant will also contribute to the successful Hospice Neighbours scheme, enabling it to continue.

Volunteers will be trained to offer companionship and some practical help for people in their community living with life-shortening illnesses.

Over 100 volunteers have already signed up and the scheme is going from strength to strength.

Hospice Neighbours has been such a success over the last year that they now need even more volunteers to come forward.

The grant will also help to fund community healthcare assistants who provide much-needed nursing care in people’s homes.

Kevin Clements, director of fundraising, said, “We want to thank the Big Lottery for their continued support. This grant, which will be spread over two years, will provide much-needed funding to help us to continue to provide services in the community.”

Barbara Gale, St Nicholas Hospice Care chief executive, added: “We are delighted with the Big Lottery Fund grant. “This grant shows how the Big Lottery recognises the importance of caring for people where they want to be – often in their own homes.

“We have found that more and more patients want to receive care in their own homes, surrounded by the people, pets and belongings that are important to them. Where possible, we think that people have the right to receive support in this way.

“This grant will help us to keep providing these services, but it is only a small fraction of our annual running costs of £5 million.

“We are facing a challenging year in an uncertain financial climate so we are still very much in need of support from the entire community.”

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