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UK hospice hit by Iceland collapse
Naomi House has had to make difficult decisions after $8.4m of its funds ended up in a failed bank.
Last Modified: 27 Apr 2009 12:03 GMT

The banking collapse was a devastating blow to the hospice which has had to cut back on services

In the wake of the collapse of the Icelandic banking system six months ago, Naomi House, a British children's hospice, found it had deposited $8.4m with a failed bank.

In the period since the financial crisis occurred, the charity has been forced to make unpleasant decisions in order to cope with the lack of funds.

In the autumn of 2008, Naomi House children's hospice, near the city of Winchester in the UK, found itself the innocent victim of the Icelandic banking crisis. 

The charity had $8.4m on deposit with the British bank Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander Limited (KSF) when it was placed in administration by the Financial Services Authority, Britain's financial regulator, on October 8, 2008. 

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Since that time Naomi House has been unable to access its funds. 

The event was a devastating blow to the hospice, which had set aside the cash to support a new 'Hospice at Home' initiative and the building of a new unit for teenagers, called Jacksplace.
 
After waiting for more than six months, the hospice has found out that it can expect to recover just 50 per cent of the deposits it had invested in KSF.

This will have to be reclaimed over the next three years and trying to cope with the situation is proving very difficult in the current economic climate.

Unit threatened
 
The charity has been providing palliative care to children and young people with life limiting conditions, and their families, in the central south of England for the past 12 years. 

Jacksplace is a unique service for young people suffering from life-limiting conditions
It costs around $3.7m to run Naomi House, 90 per cent of which is donated by members of the public who live in the communities the hospice supports.
 
Before the financial disaster, Naomi House was preparing to offer a unique service, named Jacksplace, to young people with life-limiting conditions, who live in the hospice's catchment area. 

Facilities designed for teenagers, who are suffering from conditions that mean they are unlikely to live to become adults, do not currently exist in this area of the country. 

The conditions they suffer are often degenerative which means that as they get older their needs become more complex.

The youngsters simply have nowhere else they can turn to for the support they need to enable them to cope. 

Jacksplace aims to offer them an environment where they can enjoy as much independence, privacy and dignity as possible. 

Now, because of the banking crisis, the hospice may open just three of the six bedrooms in the new unit unless the funds are returned in full.

Service suspended

Families using Naomi House find it very difficult to cope in times of crisis and the children who visit are highly dependent on the help of others. 

Bonnie hopes to stay at Jacksplace when it opens
The child's parents and immediate family are often their carers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Naomi House started to provide a 'Hospice at Home' service to the families who visit the hospice in times of emergencies.

Under the initiative, the hospice would step in and care for the ill child while the family resolved its crisis. 

The loss of the Icelandic funds means that the hospice has suspended this service, leaving nowhere else for families to turn.

Beverley Campbell and her daughter Bonnie have been visitors to Naomi House for several years. 

Bonnie, 16, hopes to stay at Jacksplace when it opens. 

Describing the support they both get from Naomi House, Beverley says: "Bonnie is very precious and I want her to have the best care and attention. 

"At Naomi House the staff know Bonnie, they understand what makes her happy, what she likes and doesn’t like. They also understand the way I like to look after Bonnie. 

"When we visit the hospice I know that they do everything they can to ensure they do things for Bonnie in the way I do them, which gives me peace of mind. 

"I can switch off from being Bonnie's carer to being her mum. And I even get five minutes to myself when I can read and relax. That is so valuable to us both."

Government lobbied

Professor Khalid Aziz, the chairman of Naomi House, has been involved in the work of the hospice since the very beginning and has led the charities fight for the return of its funds held in KSF. 

Over the years he has got to know many of the families and understand the problems they face.
 

 Khalid says 'it is appalling that we have to continue to wait'
Khalid describes the fight for the frozen funds in terms of the support the families need.

He says: "Every week I see families visit the hospice who at the start of their visit are feeling exhausted and in need of a life line of support. By the end of their stay they are different people. 

"The value of our service is clear to see, without Naomi House many simply would not cope. Our funds are essential to giving families the quality care we have worked so hard to provide.

"It is disappointing that it is going to take another three years to get just 50 per cent of our deposits. It is appalling that we have to continue to wait.

"It has taken more than six months to get to [this] point... Our fight will not stop until all of our money is returned. 

"The campaign to lobby the British government for the return of the remaining 50 per cent will continue with a passion.   

"Many of our children simply cannot afford to wait indefinitely for a solution. I urge the government to understand the important role of the hospice and to step in and compensate us immediately."

If you would like to know more about Naomi House and the service it provides please visit www.naomihouse.org.uk

Source:
Al Jazeera
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