THE boss of cash-strapped hospice has called on businesses to do their bit and offer financial help, saying the hospice will not be able to keep its doors open day and night without it.

Earlier this year, Zoë's Place, in Middlesbrough, warned they were in the "most challenging times" they had ever faced and could be forced to close for two nights a week due to financial hardship, meaning they would be unable to offer emergency respite for families.

Mark Guidery, general manager at the hospice, said further cuts may be needed if the financial situation doesn't improve – a decision he said would "break his heart".

With a growing number of companies integrating corporate responsibility programmes as part of their standard business practice, encouraging their workforces to be more conscious of their economic, social and environmental impact, Mr Guidery said supporting Zoë’s Place provided the perfect opportunity for businesses and individuals to help make a difference.

He said: “Nowadays more and more people are looking to give something back to the community. But with pressing schedules both at home and at work many find it hard to set the time aside for charitable activities on top of everything else.

“By factoring CSR into the work schedule companies are giving their employees the chance to give something back to the community, plus it’s a great way to motivate your employees and get the best from them – individually and as a team.

“Here at Zoë’s Place we are committed to building partnerships with businesses that are mutually beneficial and socially responsible.

“By working in partnership with us, companies and their employees can make a real difference to babies and young children with life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses, and also to their families.”

Zoë’s Place provides palliative, respite and bereavement care for families of babies and children with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses.

The hospice, which needs £1.5m a year to keep its doors open, has cared for more than 350 children across the North-East since opening in 2004, and at the moment has more than 30 babies and young children receiving regular nursing care.

Mr Guidery said their current financial situation was a result of a reduction of donations and funding from families and clinical commissioning groups.

He also said it was impossible to know how many donations would come in at any given time, with major events such as the Great North Run the only guaranteed time the hospice can rely on receiving funds.

Staff at the hospice are also urging more people to organise their own fundraising events, calling on neighbours, families, friends and their wider community for support.

The first Zoë’s Place Baby Hospice opened in Liverpool in 1995, with Middlesbrough opening its doors at Crossbeck House, in High Street, in 2004 and a third facility in Coventry in 2011.

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