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.
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.
5th April 2023
Broadstairs Beavers get creative with Pilgrims Hospices
The generous 11th Broadstairs Beavers, visited Pilgrims Hospice Thanet with Tracey Garnier, to present their donation of £200. The Beavers had been saving money each week, to help support people who need important Pilgrims’ care.
They were interested to find out more about activities that take place in the Therapy Centre, and enjoyed a craft session during their visit.
Jane Stanley, Wellbeing Practitioner said:
“It was such a great evening! We had prepared packs of 3D desktop beavers to make, and coiling dreamcatcher snakes to decorate. After a brief overview of some of the Wellbeing groups here at Pilgrims, the Beavers ‘beavered’ on with the crafts. They enjoyed the cheque handover and having their photograph taken. We also had a new Beaver invested into the group, and they all marched out happily holding their beavers and snakes.
“They loved hearing about the groups we run for patients, and seeing the warm safe space of our Therapy Centre, while enjoying the cutting and sticking crafts. They thought about a message to put in their desktop beaver; one wrote a message for someone who had been unkind to them at school, and was going to give the beaver to them as a gift.
“The evening showed the kindness of this community group, donating a fantastic sum to the good work done at Pilgrims.”
Tracey Garnier, Unit Clerk continued:
“I am Tracey (Tic Tac) my Beaver name, and I work as the Unit Clerk in Pilgrims Hospice Thanet. I joined the hospice team a year ago, after a career change, having previously worked in education for 26 years as a learning support assistant. My other assistant leader also works at the hospice – Caroline (Tu Tu) is part of the fundraising team, and joined our group 5 years ago, after coming on a Beavers District Hike which was donating money to Pilgrims Hospices.
“Each week, we encourage the Beavers to bring in small change which is collected and then donated to a charity. Over the COVID period, we were not allowed to meet so this all stopped.
Tracey added: “I approached Billy Williams, Pilgrims Wellbeing Lead, to see if it would be possible for the Beavers to visit the therapy area, and undertake an art activity. I wanted the Beavers to see how their donation would help to support local people who need care; helping them to understand having seen the physical place.
“Jane has been amazing and came up with some ideas and beavered away to make sure everything was ready for the evening. We asked the Beavers some general questions, then asked Jane to tell us what it is that happens in that area. They were very interested and surprised by the variety of things. We then started the art activity which they really enjoyed.
“I hope to incorporate some other activities in our coming sessions, and hope to visit the hospice again. Watch this space.”
Caroline Dixon, from Pilgrims said:“We had a fabulous time with our Broadstairs Beavers, they were really keen to learn, and by visiting the hospice, it’s given them an opportunity to find out first-hand about the special care we offer here.”
Each year, Pilgrims Hospices give care and comfort to over 2,500 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.
22nd March 2023
Time to Create: Springtime flower art
We like to include seasonal changes in our creative, art-based therapeutic groups.
As springtime approaches and the weather warms up, we focus on plants and flowers, being outside in nature, and acknowledging the beginning of a new season. This can be a very mindful and reflective experience.
When you sit outside in early spring, whether in your garden, a park or other public space, take a moment to absorb your surroundings:
What trees can you see with new buds or the beginnings of fresh leaves?
Are there blossom trees around?
Which flowers are beginning to bud?
Daffodils, bluebells and snowdrops are all signs that spring is fast approaching; can you see any of these?
Scents are also an important factor when spending mindful time within nature; can you smell the soil if it’s a damp, dewy morning? What about the smell of cut grass?
Scents can provoke memories, and taking note of different springtime smells helps you to remain focused in the moment.
It’s also interesting to take note of sounds when sitting peacefully. Can you hear birds tweeting? Can you hear squirrels rustling in the trees or the gentle hum of the first few bumblebees buzzing? Taking time to sit quietly looking, listening and absorbing the natural world around you is an excellent therapeutic technique that can help keep you focused on the present and the beauty of our natural world. This kind of mindful activity can help to reduce anxiety, relieve stress and provide a positive and peaceful mindset for the day ahead.
Let’s get crafty
What you’ll need
Assorted coloured card
A large embroidery needle
Mounting board with frame
Coloured embroidery thread
Assorted coloured tissue paper
People have utilised nature as creative inspiration for hundreds of years. In our springtime session, we used coloured card and tissue paper to create beautiful 3D floral artwork.
Start by choosing your colour scheme and decide which flowers you’d like to make. You don’t have to make the flowers realistic; you can be as colourful and creative as you like. Using a needle and embroidery thread, make holes in the tissue paper and poke them through your backing card. Rustle up the tissue paper to create a 3D effect. You can also use coloured embroidery thread for the stems of the flowers. Using PVA glue, stick down the design for the vase and any leaves, stems or flowers around the centre of the piece.
Keep building up your creation until you’re happy with it, and then set aside to let it dry before using a mounting board to frame the final design.
Using unconventional items like bubble wrap can be a fun and inventive way to develop your skills, create different effects within your artwork, and build up a bank of useful resources that can help you when creating new pieces.
When planning our creative, art-based groups, we like to think outside the box and discover new ways of being creative. Our group painted on bubble wrap and used it like a stamp to print a design onto paper.
Let’s get crafty
What you’ll need
Paper or card
Paint (poster or acrylic)
You can use real fruit, flowers from your garden, or images from the internet as inspiration for your creations. Simply paint your bubble wrap, then press your object onto it to transfer the paint, and finally stamp your object onto paper or other material.
If you don’t want to paint fruit or flowers, try creating something else with the bubble wrap print. We used plain white paper, but you can use any colour, as long as the your paints are thick enough to make an impact.
Inspired by World Space Week, we got creative with chalks, oil pastels and glitter to make beautiful space scenes.
It can be a challenge to get the creative ideas flowing; in our Wellbeing groups, we like to use a theme to help with this. Using images of planets, nebula and stars as a starting point, we began working on black card to develop participants’ own artistic interpretations of space.
Using black card enables the pastels and chalks to really jump off the page, creating a colourful and magical representation of space. The great thing about an activity like this is that it can be as abstract or as real as you like; there is no right or wrong way to begin your design.
Let’s get crafty
What you’ll need
On your black card, use white to dot around and draw the outline of a planet. You can use your finger to smudge the colours and blend them into each other; this creates a more fluid effect that will enhance the design. Don’t be afraid to layer the pastels and work with lots of different colours, this will create depth and make your pieces feel more real.