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22nd March 2020

It gave me the will to live

Accessing hospice services may be difficult for marginalised people in our communities, but thanks to our Safe Harbour work, we’re breaking down barriers.

Debbie Pigeon is an outreach clinical nurse specialist funded by Macmillan Cancer Support for those who may struggle to seek help, including people who are homeless, have a history of drug and alcohol addiction or hoarding, people with a mental health problem, or who are living in deprivation, as Debbie explained:

“Traditionally, people from underserved groups have an opinion that ‘hospice’ means end of life. So when you mention the word, they think they’re going to die straight away. I introduce the idea of hospice to them early on and support them with symptom management, along with emotional, psychological, social and financial issues, so when they do deteriorate, they feel part of St Helena Hospice and feel safe that we’re going to support them.

“I love working in the community. I love making a difference for people. The most rewarding thing is building up trusting relationships because many of these people have traditionally been let down and lack trust in statutory services. My aim is to be alongside them throughout their illness so they can be supported with dignity until the end of their life.”

Steve and Debbie

“I call her visits my ‘make me happy days’ because a lot of people I deal with say they are going to do something, but somebody puts the brakes on and it never happens. Debbie gets straight on it, boom boom boom. I trust her completely. I knew nothing at all about hospices before Debbie came. It did scare me. The best thing I can say about St Helena Hospice was it gave me the will to live. It did. No ifs and buts about it.” Steve

Julie and Debbie

“Debbie came to see me first about five years ago. I was in a bit of a pickle with things that were going on. She would come round to my home and talk to me, ask me how I was feeling, how my day was, if I was in pain or anything. It was reassuring. She recommended I came to The Hospice for a little stay and thank goodness she did.” Julie

St Helena’s Safe Harbour project, run in collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support, won the Innovation in Tackling Inequalities Award at the Hospice UK 2018 awards.

This story may not be published elsewhere without express permission from St Helena Hospice.


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