Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The importance of our local hospices and charities

Talk to almost anyone and you will find they either know of a relative or acquaintance who has received care from a hospice, or are aware of their local hospice and may well have supported it or be a volunteer.

Hospices are very much part of the community. As they receive around only 18 percent of their funding centrally from Government, they are very much supported by the community with charitable donations and volunteers. This provides them with independence but also challenges.

Hospices not only provide care and support for the patient but also for the carers and family. The aftercare for those who have been bereaved is most appreciated as they come to terms with the loss and big changes in their lives.

Last week Margaret Whitehead, Chairman of our Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee, and I met with the Chief Executives of four local hospices; St Barnabas, St Catherine's, St Wilfrid’s and St Peter and St James, which sits just outside West Sussex in North Chailey.

It was a very thought provoking meeting as we talked about end of life care and the needs of carers. Interestingly many people believe that hospices only care for cancer patients. Whilst the majority of patients may have cancer, many other conditions are also cared for such as Motor Neurone Disease and dementia.

The majority of us would prefer to spend our last days at home. However, with complex health conditions, family members, who are often the carers as well, need extra help. The hospices have teams to provide support and care in the home to meet this growing demand.

We are also very lucky to have charities like Macmillan and Sue Ryder, who provide support and care for terminally ill residents.

With a growing elderly population and an increasing number of people living with dementia, the hospices have a really important role to play now and in the future.

As I mentioned, each hospice has to raise funds locally. This week is Small Charity Week and there is a useful website www.localgiving.com where you can enter your postcode and a list of local charities come up. This is a terrific way to support small local charities that do really good work in the local community, and very often on a tight budget. They do not have the resources of the big well-known charities to pay for advertising and large fundraising campaigns.

I am reminded of the old saying ‘charity begins at home’, so please do try and support your local charities who provide such important local help.

Best wishes,

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Monday, 3 June 2013

Working in partnership in West Sussex

Time flies as they say, and that is how it feels as it is already one month since the County Council elections.

So much has been going on at County Hall, in particular induction and training sessions for County Councillors. Attendance has been good, with lots of interest in all aspects of the Council’s work. The cycle of meetings such as Scrutiny and County Local Committees starts shortly and the formal work will begin in earnest.

As I regularly mention, the majority of what the County Council does is in partnership with others. Building strong working partnerships has been and continues to be a priority for me. So it was good to meet with the Leaders and Chief Executives of the county’s District and Borough Councils on Friday. There was a broad discussion on the changes to local authority financing, and of course reflection on further reductions in funding following on from the Government's soon to be announced Comprehensive Spending Review.

We looked at examples from across the country on pooled budgets and sharing services. This was very informative and allowed us to think about how and where we can continue to work closer together to drive out additional costs.

This is just the start of a series of on-going meetings with partners. This coming Friday we have our meeting with the West Sussex MPs. This is a chance to have a good discussion about the challenges ahead and how we best work together to ensure we get maximum value for our Council Tax payers.

Sunday 2 June was the 60th anniversary of the Queen's Coronation. At the age of 27 the very heavy crown was placed on the Queen’s head, and the very heavy responsibilities that go with the role fell on her shoulders where they continue to sit to this day.

She has borne her duties and responsibilities with dignity, grace and great skill. The world when she was crowned is very different in so many ways from the world we now live in. The Queen and the monarchy has adapted and moved with the times. She listens to the people she serves and who serve her, respecting their collective voice while maintaining and underpinning the important traditional values of the monarchy.

Her commitment to her role and sense of duty is outstanding, the finest example to all who hold public office, and second to none in the world. Long may she continue.

Best wishes,