A local charity has said it’s committed to bringing the community together in grief and celebration this Christmas despite the Coronavirus restrictions.
Every year, Havens Hospices holds its ‘Light up a Life’ services in Southend and across Essex, where hundreds of people attend to remember loved ones who have died. With social distancing measures and the uncertainty over lockdown controls, the charity took the decision to create a ‘virtual’ Light up a Life event that people could view and participate in online.
The service, led by Martin Hill, Spiritual Care Lead for Havens Hospices, features a range of contributors representing different aspects of the charity’s hospice care as well as faith partners within the community. Speakers include Rabbi Geoffrey Hyman from the Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation and singer Jen Hazel, a tutor at South Essex University and active within the Unitarian movement. Poems and prayers were also read by Havens Hospices volunteers Rev Margaret Deans, Cara Parker – whose daughter Laurel was cared for at Little Havens – and Hospice at Home Deputy Sister Denise Douglas.
The introduction to the service was conducted by Julie Fosh, the High Sheriff for Essex. Julie has been offering her support to the charity since the start of the pandemic by sending handwritten notes and gifts to the hospices’ Care Teams, and taking part in its Virtual Quiz. After recording her address, Julie spent time meeting nurses and patients within Fair Havens In-Patient Unit. She says, “It was a privilege to see first-hand the compassion, care and professionalism demonstrated at all levels by the staff at Fair Havens. The patients I spoke to were clearly gaining great benefit from the care and facilities they provide. I hope that those grieving within our community find comfort in this special service.”
Havens Hospices has also kept with tradition by having music from the Hadleigh Temple Corps of The Salvation Army, adhering to strict social distancing measures.
Martin says, “The annual Light up a Life service is such an important part of the beginning of the festive season for many people whose family members have received hospice care. This is the case for many people nationwide as well as here in Essex. Being constrained to hold the service online because of the pandemic has not detracted from this for us at Havens Hospices. We hope to provide, even in a limited sense, a point for remembrance and continued love for those we miss each day, and no less at this time of year, to be at the centre of hearts.”
The service, filmed and edited by local videography firm Studio 53, will be available from 7pm on Friday 11th December through the charity’s Facebook page and on its YouTube channel from 8pm that evening.
The care of Havens Hospices is completely free of charge, thanks to the support of the community making donations and supporting campaigns like Light up a Life. To find out more, visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/lual.