MARY Stevens Hospice has now been given the green light to start the biggest appeal in its history after being granted planning permission for an ambitious £3 million redevelopment.

Fundraisers are now being tasked with raising £2m of the money required to completely refurbish the Stourbridge charity’s day services unit, with a build start date provisionally scheduled for spring 2017.

The unit is currently running at 100 per cent capacity, meaning the Hagley Road hospice, which provides respite and treatment to people and families living with progressive, incurable, and life-shortening illnesses, is currently unable to care for any more patients.

To help cope with demand – nearly 4,500 patients attended last year – bosses have drawn up plans to modernise the facility which was opened back in 1991 by Diana, Princess of Wales.

Charlotte Schofield, head of fundraising and lottery at Mary Stevens Hospice, said the hard work in raising the £2m to fund the build has already started.

She added: “This is the news we’ve been waiting for. To raise an additional £2 million on top of our £2.8 million running costs is going to require a huge effort from our fundraisers, our volunteers, our supporters and everyone in our local community, but if there’s a group of people that can do it, it’s this hospice family.

“We’re so grateful to receive the continuing support of so many people, and each and every person will make a huge difference as we strive to provide our care to more and more people in their hour of need.”

The project, which follows a successful recent revamp of the hospice’s ten-bed residential unit, was given a kick start by the charity’s board of trustees who have also agreed to donate the first £1m towards the scheme.

John B Woodall, chairman of Mary Stevens Hospice’s board of trustees, said: “We need to increase the number of patients for whom we can provide care and trustees believe this is best done by increasing the capacity and capabilities of the day services unit and improving our ability to provide education and training of others.”

The development would see the existing unit extended and remodelled to include brand new treatment and consulting rooms, state-of-the-art equipment, improved child bereavement and consultation facilities, and improved education and training facilities.

A fully-equipped overnight family apartment will be included, which would allow relatives to stay at the hospice to be close to loved ones at critical times, and the redevelopment would also allow the hospice to perform urgent and vital procedures, such as blood transfusions, which would previously have had to be done in hospital.

Stevan Jackson, CEO of Mary Stevens Hospice, said: “In the last 10 years attendances have almost doubled, from 2,282 in 2005 to 4,244 in 2015 and many of our patients now have highly complex needs.

“We expect the numbers to continue rising and complexity of conditions to increase.

“Trustees have calculated that the most effective way of coping with this ever-increasing demand on the day unit is to increase capacity by around 90 per cent in the fullness of time, which would allow a further 3,692 patient attendances annually.”

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