St Christopher’s Ground-breaking day for new Learning Hub

Building work starts on our international education centre to improve end of life care for all

Building work is beginning on a £6.5 million education centre – the Learning Hub – at St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham, which aims to transform care for the dying and bereaved not just in south east London but nationally and internationally too.

To celebrate, a Ground-breaking ceremony was held on 22 June on the site of the new building and attended by St Christopher’s staff, volunteers and families, key members of the hospice movement, as well as Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, local MP for Lewisham West and Penge, Ellie Reeves, and local councillors Cllr Angela Wilkins and Cllr Marina Ahmad from the Crystal Palace Ward.

Heather Richardson, Joint Chief Executive at St Christopher’s, says, “Caring for the people and families of South East London is our primary purpose and passion, which won’t change. However, we don’t have the resources to reach all the people who need our help and so through these amazing new education facilities, we can share our knowledge and experience more widely not only to improve the support available to dying and bereaved people in our local community, but nationally and around the world.”

The forward-looking Learning Hub will feature a Skills Lab and an open community space and cafe, as well as flexible teaching and lecture rooms and remote learning technology to enable the hospice to bring together and share the latest teaching and research in end of life care and related issues such as frailty and dementia. Thousands will be trained every year in the Learning Hub, from backgrounds such as social care, education and health. The UK is a world-leader in end of life care, and the Learning Hub will also attract overseas students, keen to learn and share best practice in the field.

The Learning Hub’s Skills Lab will provide practical training for people of all backgrounds involved in care for the dying and bereaved, and for the first time this will include members of the public; family, friends and carers.

Diane Roberts, 68 from Dulwich, who was invited to speak at the Ground-breaking ceremony about her experience caring for her mum said, “Lots of people want to play their part in looking after someone they love who is at the end of life, but it can be very daunting and you don’t always have the confidence. The Learning Hub will have beds and all kinds of practical equipment where you can learn simple things such as how to wash someone. Learning from the expertise of the hospice means people who have become carers like me will feel much more confident and better able to cope, and their loved ones will receive better care.”

The funds to build St Christopher’s new Learning Hub are being raised through a series of private donations. During the build, the daily work of the hospice, which supports nearly 6,500 people across Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark each year, will continue.

St Christopher’s established the world’s first end of life Education Centre at its hospice site in Sydenham in 1973 – where over 100,000 medical and social care professionals from the UK and overseas have been trained – but the current building is no longer fit for purpose. The new building will provide the space, resources, and modern technology to expand the hospice’s education and training programme so that many others learn how to deliver good care, in people’s homes, hospitals, care homes and other health and social care organisations, across the UK and around the world.

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