A new care centre will soon be opened by The Hospice of St Francis as it aims to reach out to an extra 1,500 people in the area.
The Northchurch-based charity already cares for around 1,000 people a year at its in-patient facilities and opened its final two beds last month, taking the total number of beds to 14.
But the new Spring Centre will enable it to reach an extra 1,500 people living with advanced illnesses across Herts and Beds in a more targeted way, according to hospice director Dr Ros Taylor.
The new facility will offer a more flexible service, giving help to more people at the earlier stages of their illnesses, as well as supporting carers and the bereaved.
It will offer a gym, physiotherapy, bereavement support, pony days for children facing loss, and complementary therapies including reflexology, aromatherapy and massage.
Dr Taylor said: “People are very afraid of hospices. They know they give good care, but do not really want to come anywhere near them.
“We’d like people to be a lot more at ease with their future and realise our hospice is a surprising place, and not a depressing or gloomy place. This is about giving them more confidence and independence.”
Experts will advise the ill on how to deal with specific conditions such as fatigue, breathlessness and pain that are associated with breast cancer, prostate cancer and other illnesses.
But the centre will also become a community hub with a film night on the first Wednesday of each month and a coffee morning on the last Friday.
The new community choir meeting will meet there from 6pm to 8pm on all other Wednesdays, and there will be a gardening group.
The Spring Centre will be open for five days a week initially, but it is hoped that it will eventually stay open all week.
The charity previously ran a twice weekly walk-in service, which cost £140,000 a year to fund and cared for 40 patients a year, but it was shut two years ago due to a funding shortage.
Dr Taylor hopes the walk-in Spring Centre will reach 300 patients a year initially, eventually rising to 1,500.
It will cost £200,000 a year to fund, which will come largely from more than £1 million left to the hospice in three wills. But to keep the service open, Dr Taylor urged: “Funding is as vital now as it ever has been so please keep supporting us in any way you can.”
Find out more at www.stfrancis.org.uk/springcentre