Hospice in the Weald helps NHS crisis, so loved ones don’t have to die alone in Kent & Sussex

Hospice in the Weald to relieve pressure with immediate patient availability as local hospitals reach ‘breaking point’

  • Urgent response with 14 beds made available for immediate use
  • Hospice patients can still have visitors
  • A solution for critically unwell to relieve NHS pressures

26 January 2021, South East – With local hospitals such as Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust at ‘breaking point’ according to the Medical Director of MTW, some of the critically ill in Kent and Sussex are being transferred to hospitals as far away as Plymouth and Bristol. In response, local charity Hospice in the Weald has made 14 private rooms (out of a total of 25) available immediately for patients at the end of their lives across its Cottage Hospice and In-Patient Ward in Pembury.

Paul Madden, Care Director of Hospice in the Weald, said: “As MTW are admitting more than three or even four times the number of daily COVID cases than the previous peak and people are dying in ambulances waiting for hospital admission across the country. We want people to know that you don’t have to die alone in Hospital, home, or worse. Care from Hospice in the Weald means you can still have visitors – we can offer beds directly to the families of those at the end of their lives, with or without Covid-19.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic the number of deaths has spiked across Kent & Sussex. Hospice in Weald provides care for patients at the end of life and support for their loved ones, free of charge.

With a broad 400 sq mile catchment across Kent and Sussex, this special support system is crucial for those families who have loved ones that do not want to end life alone in a hospital. This is particularly poignant at this time, with many visits to say goodbye restricted due to Covid-19 guidelines.

Julie Northfield is from Mayfield. Her father died under the care of the Hospice team in Five Ashes in the autumn of 2020. She says: “Being at Cottage Hospice made the end of Dad’s life calm, dignified, and as good as it could be. We would have continued to struggle to care for him at home but the Hospice took away that struggle so that we could focus as a family on saying our goodbyes. He could not have had a better death. That makes the grieving process easier too, there are no ‘what ifs’ and you can take comfort in knowing that you have done the best you could have done.”

Cottage Hospice is based at Five Ashes near Mayfield and is the first of its kind in the UK, providing people at the end of their lives with a comfortable, personalised ‘home from home’ – with room for family members and pets to visit, as well as a dedicated nursing team if required.

The beds across Hospice in the Weald are available for anyone living with a terminal illness in Kent and Sussex, to help keep families together during one of the most difficult times of life.

Rob Woolley, Chief Executive at Hospice in The Weald continues: “Never has there been a more pressing time than in the current situation with local hospitals at full capacity and no visitors allowed. Hospice in the Weald caters for people to live out their final days, weeks or months comfortably with their loved ones around them and we have immediate availability that people may not know about. All it takes is one phone call and we can quickly support families and care for their loved ones in comfort.”

Hospice in the Weald has implemented stringent Covid-19 measures to provide as safe a space as possible during the pandemic. The In-Patient Ward at Pembury is taking Covid positive and negative patients, to ensure everyone gets the best possible care. The Cottage Hospice in Five Ashes is being kept as a Covid free site to ensure even the most vulnerable of patients can be kept safe.  

To find out more contact the team at Hospice in the Weald directly on 01892 820515, or visit hospiceintheweald.org.uk and use the ‘access care’ button. 

Hospice in the Weald is a registered charity not part of the NHS. Their charity shops generate more income than they receive from the government. The Hospice provides care for patients in the last year of their lives, and those important to them, throughout Kent and Sussex.

All care is offered free of charge and patients can be cared for in their own homes, or in two in-patient settings; the Ward in Pembury or the Cottage Hospice in Five Ashes, near Mayfield. Cottage Hospice is the first Service of its kind in the UK to offer a homely environment where patients are cared for by their loved ones, with the support of nursing staff. Counselling support is also available to patients and those important to them.

The Hospice has remained open throughout the COVID pandemic and has cared for COVID positive patients as needed. Some Services such as counselling have been offered via telephone or video call.

The Hospice exists only by donations and grants and needs to raise over £7 million every year. If you are a local business and want to help HitW at this difficult time, get in touch via the website www.hospiceintheweald.org.uk

Kent Fraud Alert System

We have received details from Kent Fraud Alert System of several scams to be aware of. They are:

  • HSBS Phising email
  • Fraudsters impersonating Citizens Advice
  • Bitcoin Phising emails

For more details click here

Policy & Resources Minutes 12.01.2021


The meeting was held remotely using Zoom software.

PRESENT: Cllr. Beck (in the Chair), Fletcher, Gilbert, Smith and Warne.

APOLOGIES: Cllr. Fairweather.

Declaration of Interests, Dispensations and Predetermination:

Members are required to declare any interests, dispensations or predetermination on items on this agenda in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct. Members are reminded that changes to the Register of Interests should be notified to the Clerk.

73/20: Internal finance check:

Cllr. Beck confirmed that the internal finance check had been completed and everything was in order.

74/20: Authorisation of payments made after the December meeting:

A list of payments totalling £14,070.38 made after the December meeting is filed with these minutes.

75/20: Transfers of monies between accounts:

Cllr. Beck reported that £10,000 was transferred from the Lloyds current account to HSBC current account.

76/20: Invoices for Payment:

A list of payments to be made in January had been circulated for approval, a copy of which is filed with these minutes. It was proposed by Cllr. Beck, seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed to authorise the payments. Two members are required to log in to the account and authorise the payments.

These included:

Policy and Resources                          £6,069.41

Properties & Burial Grounds              £   934.79

Environmental Management             £1,821.01        

Total           £8,825.21

77/20: Community Centre/Medical Centre:

There was no report made under this item.

78/20: Grounds Contract:

The opportunity to tender for Grounds Contract had been advertised in January 2020. Multiple applications were received, these were subsequently shortlisted to two local companies, just at the point the Coronavirus Pandemic struck. It was agreed at the time to extend the present contractor’s contract for a further year. Members discussed the attributes of both the remaining two tenders.

It was proposed by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed to accept the tender submitted by Kent Grassland Services. The Clerk confirmed the contract would run until 31st March 2023 as detailed originally on the Public Contracts website.

79/20: E.ON electricity contract renewal for Street lighting/E.V points.

The Clerk advised that we had received renewal terms for the streetlighting energy contract. We had been quoted for two options, one using ‘green energy’ as in wind farms and other using ‘grid electricity’. There was minimal cost difference between the two options. With this in mind, Cllr. Beck proposed the green option was accepted, for a supply period of 36 months. This was seconded by Cllr. Smith and agreed.

We had also received a quote to renew the EV charge point supply. The quotes contained options for one, two and three years, the latter being the most expensive. Members discussed the Clerk’s time and effort versus the extra cost to secure a fixed price for a longer period. After a full discussion Cllr. Fletcher proposed that the quote, fixed for two years at 25.32p per kWh with a standing charge of 48p per day be accepted. He also proposed that the unit charge on the EV charge points should be increased to 33p per kWh and signage to reflect the change should be purchased and erected. The proposals were seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.

80/20: Staffing:

Cllr. Gilbert reported that he would soon be undertaking the annual inspection of Vestry Hall Cottage and would take the opportunity to discuss with the tenants, their caretaking role going forward.

81/20: Grant Applications:

An application requesting £1,600 had been received from Cranbrook Primary Out of School Club. Due to the pandemic and subsequent closure of schools, their operating costs had remained the same but their income had reduced dramatically. This was because some parents had continued to work from home. They needed financial assistance to be able to continue providing the service. Cllr. Beck proposed the grant be awarded in full, subject to the organisation providing copy for an article in the parish magazine to highlight the facilities they offer, which would hopefully improve take up of the service. This was seconded by Cllr. Warne and agreed.

82/20: Items for Information:

Cllr. Beck asked members to consider compiling a list of solicitors the Parish Council could use for legal matters, such as checking leases. Recommendations could be discussed as a future agenda item.

Cllr. Gilbert reported that the lease for KCC to use the Vestry Hall as an Asymptomatic Testing Centre for the next 8-9 weeks, had been agreed.

Cllr. Warne reported that a drafting error in the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan had been discovered in relation to the Turnden development. They had only included phase 2, the 160-170 houses, the 36 that had already received permission had not been included. This had pushed our figures up from 453 to 467, for Cranbrook and Sissinghurst. The Plan did get passed by the Planning and Transport Cabinet Advisory Group last night, so would now go before Cabinet to get signed off and then to Full Council for final approval.

She also reported on the government consultation – Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure, which is looking at adopting new permitted development rights. A new Business Class Use E has been added which is more flexible and would allow for conversion of any commercial space to residential. However, it does contain exemptions including the AONB and Listed Buildings. The consultation runs until the 28th January.

Latest news from Kent County Council Public Protection

Sittingbourne resident targeted by bogus Council officials  
An elderly resident in Kent was targeted by bogus council officials into paying £4,000 for urgent home repairs.
What happens: You will be cold called by 2 men claiming to be from Swale Borough Council. They will tell you urgent repairs need to be carried out in your home. The work will cost you £4,000 but you will be able to claim the money back.

What to do:
Do not respond to cold callers
Check the identity by calling your local council on a number you have. Do not use any phone number the cold callers give you – it may not be genuine.
Report to Kent Police on 101, or if you feel threatened call 999.
Please warn vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours.


COVID-19 Symptom-Free Testing in Cranbrook

There are now over 20 symptom-free COVID-19 testing sites in Kent, including in Cranbrook at the Vestry Hall.

It is recommended that everyone without symptoms should get tested every 2 weeks, especially if you’re leaving the house for a necessary reason, such as going to work or shopping for essentials. Around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have no symptoms, so get tested regularly to make sure you are not unknowingly spreading the virus.

To book a test follow this link COVID-19 Test Appointments Home (healthit.org.uk)

You can also book a test by calling 119.

Please note the entrance to the site is through the side door of Vestry Hall, via the churchyard. If you are required to queue for your test there is no shelter, so please ensure that you are suitably wrapped up for the weather.

You’ll need to take with you:

*             your mobile phone (with a QR code reader or the NHS app already installed if possible)

*             your booking confirmation

*             proof of identity (photo ID). You can bring proof of address if you do not have photo ID.

Update of major gas works by SGN in Cranbrook.

SGN are pleased to advise that they have successfully completed their essential gas main replacement work on the High Street, Angley Road and New Road.  

They would like to thank local residents and businesses for their patience and understanding throughout their work programme, enabling them to carry out this essential work.  

They would also like to take this opportunity to advise that following the latest Government advice at the end of March 2020, they postponed a separate replacement project along A229/ Hartley Road undertaken by their contractor RHP Utilities. They will need to return in the future to complete the final upgrades and will write and let us know once details have been confirmed and they are able to restart this project.


Royal Mail Phishing Scam

We have received reports of a phishing email currently circulating in the UK and being received by Kent residents.

The email tells you that you have missed a delivery and provides a link to reschedule. It is a scam, do not click on any links or enter any details.

This scam often circulates at Christmas as we may be expecting parcels and deliveries.

Royal Mail provides this advice – How to spot a fake email: Check at the top.
Fraudsters often use subjects or greetings that are impersonal and general, like “Attention Royal Mail Customer”. They may use a forged email address in the “from” field like “delivery@royalmail.com”. They may even use the Royal Mail logo. None of this guarantees the email has come from us.

The sender, subject and content may change slightly but often they:
• state there is a parcel waiting to be collected
• ask for payment before an item can be released for delivery
• prompts you to open a link or document
• asks you to send a text message or call a phone premium rate phone number
Protect your information
• Never send sensitive, personal information, security details or credit card numbers by email
• Never click on a link in an email if you are unsure about it, especially if it asks for personal financial information, this might attempt to install malware on to your computer
• Make sure you have a spam filter on your email account
Reporting potential scams
If you receive a suspicious email or discover a Royal Mail branded website which you think is fraudulent, please let them know by telephone 03457 740 740. They are open Monday to Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday 8am-1pm.

For help and advice with online scams contact Citizens Advice scams action on 0808 250 5050.

Kent Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter Campaign, Knock and Check

Knock and Check logo

Each year there are around 1600 avoidable winter deaths across the county. We want your help to reduce this number and are asking the people of Kent to check on their elderly neighbours during the colder months when they are most at risk.

Knock & Check is simple – take a look at the small actions which will make a difference within your community, as well as the details of services which can offer a lifeline to the more elderly and isolated, by visiting this website

Volunteer to help find the vaccine for COVID-19

Join the national effort and sign up for the NHS COVID-19 vaccine research registry. Be part of the fightback against the virus by volunteering to be contacted by researchers to take part in COVID-19 vaccine research. 

There are a number of vaccines being identified, but only large-scale studies can give researchers the information needed about how effective they are. 

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is working with the NHS and aims to recruit as many people as possible onto the registry, which will allow people to be put in touch with the vaccine studies in the coming months. 

Researchers are looking for people from all backgrounds, ages and parts of the UK – including both people with or without existing health conditions – to take part in vaccine studies, to make sure that any vaccines developed will work for everyone. 

The service is available to anyone aged 18 or over, living in the UK. There is no obligation to join in any study, if you are contacted. But by taking part, you could help researchers find vaccines to protect us all more quickly – which in turn could help the NHS and save lives. 
Sign up today!

Image of NIHR asking for help with vaccine research

Domestic Abuse Support Services from Kent Police

Kent Police have also provided the following social media links:

We're still here

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, you can report it. Limited contact with the outside world during this pandemic may make you or someone you know feel unsafe, but our specialist teams are still here 24/7. Visit: https://www.kent.police.uk/police-forces/kent-police/areas/kent-police/campaigns/campaigns/2019/social-isolation-domestic-abuse/ #KentTogether #Covid19

Posted by Kent Police on Thursday, 14 May 2020

TWBC launch new social website

A new website has been launched. With social distancing measures currently in place many people are experiencing social isolation and loneliness. To help combat this, and the impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has launched a new community website ‘Tunbridge Wells Social’.

The site is a collaborative project between the Council’s Culture, Health and Housing teams, the Community Safety Unit and partners including Town & Country Housing, St Giles Trust, KCC’s Early Help, Salus, DAVSS and Age UK. The site is free to use. More content will be added over the coming weeks and months, and the site will continue to be available as a community resource after lockdown measures are lifted.

Tunbridge Wells Social offers something for everyone. It’s a one stop shop of information and support as well as entertainment and fun. There is an interactive weekly podcast ‘Tunbridge Wells Talks’ airing lighthearted views about what’s going on, as well as updated and relevant content to help connect people.

Stars from the stage and small screen with local connections have given their support to the initiative. Comedian, writer and presenter Jo Brand recalls her school days in Tunbridge Wells; local actor Philip Martin Brown (Waterloo Road and Coronation Street) reads a favourite poem; Olympic medallist Jayne Torvill shares a message of support, commending how the local community has come together, and TV presenter Nick Knowles, who went to school in Tunbridge Wells, is also supporting the project sharing funny poems and a message.

Please do share this email and the website with your contacts and networks, families and friends. It would be also helpful to note that the Council has set up a local helpline to support people who need urgent help, supplies or medication as a result of the coronavirus. The number is 01892 554497.

Keep well and stay safe

Best wishes The Social Isolation Group
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Launch of New Wellbeing Support Info Hub

Health partners and providers, local authorities and emergency services across Kent and Medway are working together to provide information on local support services to help people’s mental wellbeing during the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic crisis.

Information is available at www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing for people experiencing bereavement and loss, debt and financial difficulties, pregnant women and new mums needing extra support, families looking for help with young children or teenagers.

There is support for those who might already have pre-existing mental health conditions, are victims of domestic abuse or are people in the shielded community.

The site also offers help for people with learning disabilities, people who don’t use English as a first language, carers and NHS staff, care staff and other key workers.

Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “The challenging reality of lockdown is creating uncertainty and anxiety for many. The constant news can feel overwhelming and you may be adjusting to a different way of life, with children off school, many people not working or working from home, as well as not seeing family, friends and colleagues.

“This anxiety is natural, and we are all feeling it. Fortunately, there are things that we can do to protect our mental health and to support the wellbeing of our friends and family. At www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing you can find information, advice and signposting to other great sites which can help, whatever your situation and need. This is #kenttogether.”

Thanks to all of those supplying content to www.kent.gov.uk/wellbeing including: Kent County Council; Medway Council; Public Health England; NHS England; Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group; Kent Community NHS Foundation Trust; Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust; Live Well Kent; Healthwatch Kent; Kent Community Foundation; Headstart Kent; Carers UK; Kent’s Integrated Domestic Abuse Support Services; KCC Children’s Centres; Citizen’s Advice and Age Concern.

As part of the Release the Pressure campaign, a new text service is now available – by texting the word “Kent” or “Medway” to 85258, you will start a conversation with one of the many trained and experienced volunteers who can give support at any time, wherever you are. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help. Texts are free on all major mobile networks and the service is provided by SHOUT and the Crisis Text Line.

The service will run in addition to the current 24/7 freephone helpline and is funded by the Kent and Medway Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) which is a collaboration between Kent County Council, Medway Council, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust and all the NHS organisations across Kent and Medway.

Vulnerable people in Kent who need urgent help, supplies or medication are also reminded of the helpline – called Kent Together – which provides a single, convenient point of contact for anyone in the county who is in urgent need of help during the Coronavirus outbreak. It is a collaboration between KCC, central Government, District, Borough and local councils, the voluntary and community sector, the NHS and other partners to ensure help is at hand for vulnerable people.

If you are vulnerable and have an urgent need that cannot be met through existing support networks, you can contact the Kent Together helpline at www.kent.gov.uk/KentTogether  or by calling on 03000 41 92 92. It is a 24-hour service.The Kent Together service is a single, convenient point of contact for anyone in Kent who is in urgent need of help during the coronavirus outbreak

Fake Tesco Phishing Email and other Scams

Please see below an alert from Action Fraud in relation to a phishing scam, where fraudsters are impersonating Tesco.

The fake Tesco emails are offering ‘free vouchers’ during the coronavirus outbreak and you are asked to click on a link, which takes you to a convincing looking phishing website that is designed to steal your login, personal and financial information.

If you receive one of these, please do not click on the link and delete it and report to Action Fraud.

For more info and extra help on how to keep yourself safe online visit https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Use the A, B, C of scam awareness:

  1. never assume a caller, email or text is genuine.
  2. never believe a caller, email or text is genuine.
  3. always confirm by contacting a trusted number, family member, friend, your bank’s fraud department or the police to check if it’s genuine.
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