A graphic used by a hospice for their light up a life events

This is the time of year when the ‘unofficial’ UK wide hospice fundraising campaign happens. Just about every hospice around the country participates and the theme is the same. But their activities are not co-ordinated and there is no national publicity drive. Indeed, not every hospice even uses the same title.

I’m talking, of course, about Light up a Life (LUAL), to give it the most common name used. Collectively, these events raise – well, we don’t know how much they raise, but it could be into seven figures. Dorothy House recently announced they had surpassed £60,000. Moreover, they and some other hospices such as St Helena are going beyond the standard approach to LUAL.

Just as importantly, of course, LUAL activities are a brilliant example of how people come together to show their humanity; to celebrate lives, but also to share their grief. 

But as well as demonstrating how hospices can unite their communities, LUAL is an example of how hospices fail to work together to have a greater impact, both in terms of raising more money and in helping more people facing bereavement. 

Adopting a common name and other aspects of a common brand, funding and supporting a national publicity campaign and having a lead date on which as many hospices as possible hold an event, could all help achieve this. And there is no reason why this need stop hospices individualising their events in other ways. 

Moreover, there is a chance to link Light up a Life with National Grief Awareness Week, which this year was from 2nd to 8th December.  This could be the classic ‘Think Global, Act Local’ approach.

Could this happen? When I was at Help the Hospices, as was, we made attempts to encourage moves in this direction, which no doubt could have been better funded and executed. But we also received some feedback from people saying we should let hospices do their own thing – often from the same people who criticised us for not running national awareness campaigns.

That was then and this is now. Hospices are much more open to collaboration these days – though there is still a long way to go. Transforming LUAL into a truly national occasion made up of hundreds of local events, even if this means a little compromise for some, would be a great way to demonstrate this. 

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