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Dame Cicely Saunders

Hospice movement

In one form or another, hospices have existed for centuries. Medieval hospices provided food and shelter for travellers on the pilgrim routes of Europe but also cared for the sick and dying. 

The term hospice was first applied in 1842 when Les Dames du Calvaire created a hospice in the French town of Lyon. At the end of the nineteenth century other female religious orders went on to establish the first British hospices. 

The growth of the modern hospice movement is founded on the pioneering work of Dame Cicely Saunders at St Christopher’s Hospice in south London, which she opened in 1967. 

“You matter because you are you and you matter to the last moment of your life”
Dame Cicely Saunders

"You matter because you are you and you matter to the last moment of your life." Dame Cicely Saunders

More than anyone else, Saunders was responsible for establishing the practice and culture of hospice care. Her concept of ‘total pain’ went beyond the physical to include emotional, spiritual and psychological aspects of suffering. She described this ground-breaking approach as ‘holistic’. Saunders insisted that dying people needed dignity, compassion and respect, and she regarded every person as an individual to the end. 

St Christopher’s became a phenomenal success and its model of clinical care, education and research has been imitated across the world. It is now one of over 220 hospices in the UK. To learn more about the hospice movement go to www.hospiceuk.org

Hospice care, or specialist palliative care, has revolutionised how patients and their families are cared for when faced with life-limiting illnesses. Yet hospices remain almost entirely dependent on donations from the communities which brought them into existence. 

£1.9 million is spent on hospice care every day. Of this, only £665,000 comes from government sources, leaving hospices to raise £1.2million per day.

As a voluntary sector hospice,The Rowans Hospice offers their services free of charge. Each year it becomes more difficult to fund our care but through this website we show you how to help us transform the lives of people affected by life-limiting illnesses. You really can make a difference! 

Did you know …

A quarter of a million patients are cared for each year by UK hospices

Volunteer with us.

Whatever your age or interests, we provide many opportunities to volunteer at The Rowans Hospice. Serve meals, work in a shop, help in the hospice or drive for us.


Shop with us.

Bag yourself a bargain and support us at the same time. Visit our shops and see our great range of new and donated goods. You can donate as you shop by giving us anything you no longer want.


How to help.

Discover the exciting ways you can fundraise and get involved with The Rowans Hospice. From abseiling to family walks and business fun days, we.ve got great events for everyone.