VIDEO: Friends ‘pleased to be back’ at Southlands hospital with new café

Volunteers have returned to Southlands hospital to resume their vital work raising funds for equipment and facilities through their new café.

The League of Friends of Southlands Hospital opened the doors to their new facility, based at the recently completed eye care centre – Western Sussex Eye Care|Southlands – on Tuesday, June 27.

Volunteers Kate Box, Terry Clarke, Liz Manning, and Carol Taylor at the new facility

Volunteers Kate Box, Terry Clarke, Liz Manning, and Carol Taylor at the new facility

Chairman Malcolm Brett said: “We are pleased to be back.”

In March, the Friends vacated their premises at the hospital’s Hammy Lane entrance, where they had been based for more than 60 years, after Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust awarded a contract for its retail and catering services to the Compass Group.

The £1.7m contract saw Deli Marche move into the area previously home to the Friends’ shop and tea bar.

After a two months hiatus, the Friends have set up in the eye care centre, where they are ‘ideally situated’ opposite the reception and near the seating area.

Behind the counter

Behind the counter

The café serves sandwiches, rolls and drinks from 8am to 4pm from Monday to Friday and is run by the same 40 or so volunteers.

“We are very grateful for the volunteers who have stayed with us all this time,” said Mr Brett.

“It shows wonderful loyalty.”

Thanks to the funds raised by the Friends over the years, the organisation has donated more than £50,000 towards the new eye care centre, which is expected to receive up to 3,000 patients a month.

“We are very pleased to have financially supported the new unit,” Mr Brett said.

The donations included £20,000 towards an Optical Coherence Tomography machine, described as the eye equivalent of an MRI, £12,000 for four Rini patient chairs to improve patient comfort during difficult procedures and £18,000 towards artwork, wheelchairs, lockers, and cold water drinks dispensers.

All profits generated at the new café will continue to be put towards equipment and facilities for the hospital.