Huddersfield continues to suffer from the extreme weather brought by Storm Emma – and it’s not over yet.
The town’s two hospices were badly hit with some nursing staff and care workers opting to sleep on site rather than attempt the journey home as temperatures plummeted.
Among those stranded on the M62 when traffic ground to a halt in heavy snow was a care worker from the Forget Me Not Hospice in Brackenhall.
Having finished her shift at 6pm on Thursday she headed home to Oldham but eventually spent 12 hours caught in the big freeze. After snatching a few hours sleep she was collected from her house by the hospice’s chief executive, Peter Branson, who used his personal 4x4 to ferry staff and to visit families.
Forget Me Not spokeswoman Kirsty Franks said the challenging weather had taken staff by surprise.
“From a care point of view the children have got complex needs and this cold weather can make it even more difficult for them.
“We simply cannot close the doors. We need to have the right amount of team members here to keep this place open. The care team have been doing everything they can to get here but where we are needed more than ever is in family homes as part of our hospice-at-home service.
“We have had to rally and get all hands on deck. The last couple of days have been really tough.”
Miss Franks said the hospice had also been clobbered financially. Takings at its 13 charity shops, which had to close for two days at the height of the storm, have fallen by a whopping £10,000. A full week of normal trading can bring in £30,000.
“It’s more severe than we have ever seen it,” said Miss Franks. “The concern now is that we are going to be further hit this weekend.”
Forget Me Not has now set up a crowd funding page and a “text to donate” system in an attempt to plug the hole in its donations.
At Kirkwood Hospice in Dalton management praised staff and volunteers for pulling together through the recent appalling weather.
Director of clinical services, Sarah Shaw, said staff had gone out of their way to ensure services were delivered.
“Instead of trying to get home, a number of our nurses slept at the hospice after coming off shift so they could be here for their next rotation.
“We’ve also had nurses working on days off to cover for colleagues who couldn’t make it in and one of our doctors, who has a 4x4, picked up colleagues to ensure our ward rounds were covered, despite the treacherous driving conditions.
“Many of our support staff, including our catering and domestic teams have been walking to the hospice and our maintenance team has been up in the early hours clearing snow and gritting paths to allow visitors and ambulances to access our site safely.”
Dewsbury firefighters helped a Batley pensioner restore heating to his home after his boiler broke down as temperatures plummeted on Thursday.
The firefighters made a welfare check on 82-year-old Brian Preston at the request of his daughter, who lives in York, and were able to unfreeze external pipework to restore heat and hot water to his bungalow.
Mr Preston is now waiting for his landlord to send an engineer to check the heating system.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust’s director of urgent care, Bev Walker, said the hospitals had been coping and no routine operations or appointments had been cancelled.
She said: “Our staff have been brilliant, making real efforts to get into work.
“The M62 has affected some staff and where they have been delayed we have provided cover.”
Clinical lead for emergency care, Mark Davies, added: “Our emergency departments are coping at the moment – though patient numbers can change very quickly like the weather conditions at the moment. We would urge everyone to stay safe and keep warm and well during this very cold snap.”
To donate to Forget Me Not’s crowd funding page visit https:// www.forgetmenotchild.co.uk or text EAST10 £amount to 70070