Listen to the voices that shaped St Christopher’s – South London News

These pictures all point to a place of gentle care and compassion. A place of history. A place that has been a part of the local fabric for six decades, writes Yann Tear.

Tomorrow, the hospice St Cristopher’s CARE, Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham will be sharing some of those intimate images with the public – proud of the work it has done for many years. And keen for it to be appreciated.

The home has put together an exhibition of oral history recordings and photographs in a show called The Voices that Shaped Us. Entry is free and it’s open from 11am-4pm.

we05 p24 mems St Kitts 1 pic St Christophers Hospice and dated between 1970 and 1999 2 SMALLScenes at St Christopher’s Hospice, between 1970 and 1999 Pictures: St Christopher’s Hospice

National Lottery Heritage funding was received for the project and a small team of staff and volunteers recorded more than 70 interviews with nurses, social workers, hospice volunteers, fundraisers, doctors, administrators, patients, family members, maintenance staff, and students.

These interviews shed light on the early days at the hospice, daily life on the wards, changes in procedures and attitudes, and the challenges faced by the organisation over the past 55 years.

The interviews, images and information graphics from the show will be preserved for the future at St Christopher’s CARE and at the Kings College London Archive.

They will be available for researchers and for anybody interested in learning more about the history of hospices, hospice care and attitudes towards death and dying in the second half of the 20th century.

we05 p24 mems St Kitts 1 pic St Christophers Hospice and dated between 1970 and 1999 4 SMALLwe05 p24 mems St Kitts 1 pic St Christophers Hospice and dated between 1970 and 1999 4 SMALLScenes at St Christopher’s Hospice, between 1970 and 1999 Pictures: St Christopher’s Hospice

Expect some colourful and unpredictable testimonies.

In one, welfare officer Laura Bechelet said: “Some people would have their animals visiting. One time, we had somebody from a large circus family and we had an elephant in the car park come and see him.

“In the nursery, we used to have two large Bernese Mountain Dogs that pulled a little cart around the gardens and would take the kids for rides.”

Heartfelt anecdotes and comments about the hospice are plentiful. Dame Cicely Saunders, who founded the hospice in 1967 wrote, back in the day: “We had dogs, children, workmen hammering, birds singing and a general atmosphere of informality and welcome which I hope will always be part of St Christopher’s.”

we05 p24 mems St Kitts 1 pic St Christophers Hospice and dated between 1970 and 1999 SMALLwe05 p24 mems St Kitts 1 pic St Christophers Hospice and dated between 1970 and 1999 SMALLScenes at St Christopher’s Hospice, between 1970 and 1999 Pictures: St Christopher’s Hospice

Elizabeth Kwesiga, a social worker, said of a visit: “There was laughing, there was painting, there was somebody playing a piano. It was lively, it was the complete opposite of what I expected.”

David Praill, director and former chief executive of Hospice UK said St Christopher’s “was important in a way that is much bigger than the service it runs in South-east London. It is a lighthouse; people have come from around the world.

 

Pictured: Scenes at St Christopher’s Hospice, between 1970 and 1999 Pictures: St Christopher’s Hospice

https://londonnewsonline.co.uk/listen-to-the-voices-that-shaped-st-christophers/

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