CHANGES are afoot at a Poole hospice following the appointment of a new charity manager who is spearheading a fresh fundraising drive.

Former nurse Diane Platt explained that up until her arrival, the Friends of Forest Holme had been raising money to support enhancements that people would not expect the NHS palliative care unit to provide.

“As of April we have agreed to be almost co-commissioners of the service and we have to raise an extra £500,000 a year. That’s why I came on board. It’s an exciting new start and an exciting new time. We’re having to change what we do,” she said.

“We’re looking to do events that are different. We don’t want to lose our existing support base but too many people in Poole have never heard of Forest Holme. That’s what we have to work on now.”

She added: “I would say probably 90 per cent of our supporters are on our database because they have had a personal connection with the hospice, which is fabulous, but it’s here for everyone from Poole, Wimborne and Purbeck.”

Although around 70 to 80 per cent of the hospice’s patients have cancer, it also deals with other life-threatening illnesses.

“Many people think our hospice is somewhere where cancer patients go to die, but lots of patients come in and go home again.

“They come in to have their symptoms and pain medication reviewed. This is the only specialist palliative care unit in the area, so it can provide a very different level of care. It’s not all about respite and end of life.”

On the way is a change of name to Forest Holme Hospice Charity and its first charity shop in the centre of Poole.

Diane is keen to hear from anyone who would like to help the hospice. She said: “There are many ways that people can volunteer. They can help our staff in the hospice, work in the shop or office or man events.”