Observer campaign as Friends shop in St Richard’s Hospital is replaced by Costa

The Friends of Chichester Hospitals volunteers say they and their trolley service is uncertain
The Friends of Chichester Hospitals volunteers say they and their trolley service is uncertain
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The Friends of Chichester Hospitals say it has been plunged into uncertainty in the wake of catering and retail services at St Richard’s being outsourced.

Costa coffee and DeliMarche will be among the brands coming to St Richard’s after the Compass Group was awarded the contract by Western Sussex Hospitals Foundation NHS Trust at its three hospitals.

It will see a £1.1m overhaul of the main entrances of St Richard’s, Worthing and Southlands in Shoreham.

The news has ‘deeply disappointed’ the charity the Friends of Chichester Hospitals, who is losing its hugely popular shop which it has successfully operated for some 20 years.

Friends of Chichester Hospitals chairman Jane Ramage says the news plunges them into uncertainty and could put its hugely vital patient trolley service at risk of being able to continue.

She said: “There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, we do believe donations to the Friends will drop off if we no longer have a prime site at the hospital.

“We never ask for donations but the shop is seen as a fundraising hub because our volunteers develop strong relationships with patients and they often want to give something back.

“Our trolley service is seen as vital to patients and its quality depends on the quality of the shop.”

In the wake of the announcement, the Observer is launching its Stand up for its Friends campaign.

We welcome the Trust’s commitment this week to providing the Friends with a new location to base its fundraising activities within St Richard’s.

It says sites ‘within the heart’ of its hospitals have been identified for the three Friends charities, and a meeting is planned on Monday.

But with uncertainty over what exactly the Friends will be offered at that meeting - if it will be able to continue to run a shop selling the same goods and if it is a secure location big enough to continue to run the vital trolley service - the Observer is making a commitment to Stand up for our Friends.

Its current shop generates around £75,000 of the estimated £500,000 it raises for St Richard’s every year.

Continued support

Western Sussex Hospital NHS Foundations Trust said it will to continue to support the Friends within its hospitals.

David Jones, director of facilities, estates and capital, said: “All three Friends organisations make a valuable contribution to our hospitals, giving their time and expertise and we remain grateful for everything they do.

“We appreciate change is often difficult, but we are committed to doing all we can to help them maintain fundraising activities from within St Richard’s, Worthing and Southlands hospitals and we have pledged to refurbish new locations at the trust’s cost. “The new retail catering contract secures an ongoing, guaranteed yearly income of £450,000, which is around three times as much as the Friends’ shops generate each year.”

He added that it would lead to lower restaurant prices, more choice and extended cafe opening hours.

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