Ashgate Hospicecare have introduced fabric hearts to help keep families connected during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The hand sewn hearts are made in matching fabric, with one kept by the patient and the other given to the family member. The charity is hoping that this will provide comfort to those who are unable to visit the hospice and encourage feelings of togetherness during a time when so many are apart.
Arlene Honeyman, Head of supportive care at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “This has been a really difficult year for so many of us. This is especially true for our patients and their families who are hoping to create precious memories in the time they have left together.
“The hearts are a beautiful way to let someone know that your heart is missing theirs. Sometimes the only safe connection is by a video call, if both hearts are shown then this is a compassionate and powerful visual way to connect and remind the other person that you are sending them your love and that you remain connected.”
The hand sewn hearts were donated by Shelagh’s Sewing Circle, a volunteer group in the Dronfield area founded and led by Shelagh Cheetham, 63, who is a retired teacher. Her now 200-strong volunteer group has also made and donated more than 66,000 face masks to key workers and frontline staff in the local community as well as across the UK since March of 2020.
With the demand for masks reducing, the group was determined to continue providing support in the local community and Shelagh knew exactly where they could start.
Shelagh said: “I’ve been a firm supporter of Ashgate since my father-in-law was cared for at the hospice 12-years ago. I am honoured to be able to give something back to such an amazing organisation and to know that I am helping people during the darkest times of their lives.”
“Needing the support of the hospice can be such a difficult time in a person’s life, as they learn to live with an uncertain future. It can be hard for the family to visit their loved ones and then go home each day without them. The hearts are something they can carry with them, even after their loved one has died and know that someone cares.
“This is something both me and my volunteers are very passionate about.”
The group is now working towards building a charity that helps combat loneliness and isolation in the local community through the medium of crafting and creativity.
The fabric hearts will also be available across the charity’s 14 shops to offer comfort and support to grieving relatives donating their loved one’s possessions.
Julia Hewerdine, Manager of the Donation Centre at Ashgate Hospicecare, said: “In the present climate, it can be very difficult accepting a donation from a bereaved customer. It’s human nature to want to hug a person who is sometimes crying or showing raw emotion.
“You must try and console them with words and that doesn’t always feel enough. It can be heartbreaking to be stood in front of someone who is emotional and not be able to reach out to offer that support.
“The hearts will allow us to spread kindness and provide us with a new way to offer comfort in these difficult times. It is something that they can take away with them as a reminder that they are not alone.”