26th October 2023

    Steve finds hope and community at Pilgrims Hospices: A Journey with Cystic Fibrosis

    Steve Carter from Ashford attends Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing sessions at the Ashford hospice.  He has cystic fibrosis and attends the therapy centre groups with his wife Thep, who is his full time carer.

    Steve’s journey with cystic fibrosis has been tough and long, but he has found relief with the support of Pilgrims, and now enjoys his time meeting others using the therapy services.

    Steve explained: “Over recent years as my illness has become worse, I’ve spent lots of time in King’s College Hospital in London: last year, I had to go there four times totalling over six months.  They have been very difficult times.  As a long stay patient, I have my own room, my wife Thep, is able to stay with me, which is a great comfort and support.  Travelling to London in itself is challenging, stressful and exhausting. I am now on oxygen and a ventilator at night, and at periods in the day too, depending on my state of health.

    The therapy sessions are a great boost to my week.

    Steve Carter

    When asked, how he had come to spend time at Pilgrims Hospices, Steve explained, that he had been an inpatient around three years ago, having spent time in hospital, after an episode, he said: “I was in a very dark place, and felt I wasn’t able to carry on; I was referred to Pilgrims Hospices, who gently managed to get my symptoms under control, and I began to feel better. I am much more well now in comparison to last year; I really did feel on the edge of death. I’m now back at home with my wife, and attending the hospice therapy centre during the week, which is really helping.

    “The therapy sessions are a great boost to my week, it’s great to come to Pilgrims. Getting out is an important part of my wellbeing, and mental health too, and I meet some lovely people, including other service users, Pilgrims staff and volunteers.

    “This year has been a really good year for me, being here at Pilgrims takes my mind away from my illness, and I get absorbed in what I’m doing, which is really refreshing.

    “As part of the Time to Create group, there are lots of crafts to undertake, many I’m trying for the first time. I’m not really very artistic but if someone helps me with an idea I can get going and really enjoy it. I’ve been watching some art programmes on TV, which have been  useful when I’m trying to improve my skills.

    “It’s so good to come and talk to people, it’s very easy to become isolated when you can’t get out much, especially during the winter. The group is always fun and full of laughter and chatter, it’s a very social experience. My wife Thep comes along too, and we both get involved with all sorts of art projects.

    We have lived in Ashford for a number of years, so not too far for us to come along, and share some special time with the Pilgrims team, and those using the Wellbeing programme.  I didn’t know there were so many options available, the support and help that we both receive is truly amazing.”

    Thank you for sharing your story Steve, you are raising awareness of our services, and we are so pleased you are enjoying your time with the Time to Create group.

    Each year Pilgrims supports thousands of local people coping with a life-limiting illness and their families. The charity offers a range of services: from end-of-life care given on its wards, to its Wellbeing Programme supporting people after they are diagnosed to live well and stay independent.


    8th September 2023

    There’s nothing quite like afternoon tea!

    National Afternoon Tea Week, what a wonderful thing to celebrate! Pilgrims Hospices shared tea with their Living Well groups, and agreed it was a great opportunity to bring people together and enjoy delicious treats. It’s heart-warming to hear that Pilgrims Hospices’ Wellbeing Group recently organised a special afternoon tea for their patients at the Canterbury Ashford and Thanet hospices.

    Jane Stanley, Pilgrims Wellbeing Practitioner told us: ”I just want to say, a huge thank you to Pilgrims catering teams, for putting together such a lovely afternoon tea for our service users.  The chefs are always ready to help make our patients feel very special, nothing is too much trouble.

    “They are normally tirelessly working behind the scenes ensuring each and every day that patients are well fed, have their strength built up, and even in their last days, patients can enjoy every moment and enjoy having tasty food to eat. During National Afternoon Tea Week, the catering teams at Thanet, Canterbury and Ashford were thrust into the spotlight, were their kindness and skills were truly recognised.

    “With short notice, they prepared an afternoon tea for the patients who attended the Living Well groups across the hospice sites.  They exceeded expectations, offering sausage rolls, sandwiches, dips, a cheese board, freshly made scones, cakes and a fruit platter. The standard of cooking and presentation was 5 Star, said one patient who tucked in.”

    Afternoon tea is a cherished British tradition, and it can bring a lot of joy and comfort to those in hospice care. Scones and sausage rolls are classic choices for afternoon tea, and serving tea alongside these treats makes it a delightful experience for everyone involved.

    Celebrations like this not only provide a chance to enjoy delicious food but also create a sense of community and support among the patients and staff. The hospice environment can be challenging, and such events can lift the spirits and foster a warm and caring atmosphere.

    It’s heartening to see organisations like Pilgrims Hospices making an effort to provide these special moments for their patients, ensuring they have the best possible quality of life during their time at the hospice. National Afternoon Tea Week is a perfect occasion to cherish those moments and celebrate life together.

    A huge thank you to Pilgrims Catering Teams

    Jane    –   Pilgrims

    It was made extra special when patients were able to thank the chefs in person, when they delivered the trollies of tasty treats. Gasps of joy and wonder could be heard as many were rendered speechless by the standard of work, one patient said, he had been on a luxury cruise where the food was not nearly so delicious or skilfully presented. Comments from those who enjoyed the fruits of the teams’ labours included “Absolutely brilliant” “A delicious array” “Scrumptious” “Lovely Jubbly” “Most enjoyable” and “Wow so much effort, so much care and attention.”

    Ian Ashton, Pilgrims Head of Catering Services said: “This shows the wonderful team spirit fostered within our catering staff, they truly value each other, this is what makes our hospice kitchens so successful.”

    Alison Griffiths, a Living Well Support Volunteer said: “Part of my role each week is to help support the patients who attend the Living Well Group with their lunch requirements. In the course of my doing so, I will often go and see the kitchen staff with requests on behalf of the patients. I have always found all the catering staff who work in Pilgrims Hospices kitchens to be extremely obliging and helpful. They always do their best to meet the individual needs and requests of the patients.

    “Whilst the kitchen staff are always very busy catering for the whole of the Hospice, the team are always cheerful and welcoming. As a volunteer it is clear how all the kitchen staff really make a significant contribution to the enjoyment of the patients who attend the Living Well Groups. The patients frequently ask me to pass on their compliments to everyone in the kitchen.”

    The Wellbeing Teams know that without volunteers like Alison, who give their time and skills so kindly, the groups run at the hospices would not be as successful or run as smoothly. There is nowhere quite like Pilgrims with such a beautiful team spirit and genuine care of people.

    Visit the Pilgrims Hospices Wellbeing Programme more information on care and services.  Would you like to become a hospice volunteer?  Opportunities are listed on the website here:

    Each year Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to thousands of people in east Kent who are coming to terms with an illness that sadly cannot be cured.  The charity support patients to live life as well as possible until the very end, free from pain and distress. 


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