Many residents of Montserrat will tell you there is no place like this tiny island they want to live. It’s vibrant green hills, deep valleys and the velvet blue of the Caribbean Sea truly makes it a paradise. However, never far from the minds of residents is that living in paradise comes with a price.
The current Glendon Hospital boasts very kind and dedicated nurses and doctors but it lacks many of the essential equipment and technologies that people come to expect as necessary for proper healthcare. This is not a new challenge and since occupying a former primary school government after government has been working to find the funds to build a more fit-for-purpose medical centre for residents and visitors. Later this year, a groundbreaking for a new facility is expected.
Will this new facility come with the requisite equipment and technologies? A group of concerned Montserratians are not leaving this to chance. Drawn together because of similar experiences at the hospital, five nationals decided to join forces to support bringing improved health services to the island.
Helping Hands for Glendon was established in February 2020 by Nurse Brenda Daley, Randolph and Judith Baker, the late Hugh Scantlebury and his wife Doreen. Their shared experiences centred around the lack of essential lifesaving equipment and the need for individuals to travel to other neighbouring islands to receive medical assistance. They each had a vested interest in supporting the health and wellbeing of the people on the island of Montserrat.
The non-profit organisation was formed with the aim of raising awareness of Helping Hands for Glendon, identifying the medical needs of the island, fundraise for essential lifesaving equipment, and support the upskilling of medical practitioners.
“Health care is ever more crucial at this current time and should be reflective of the needs of the country. Having health care that is local to you is paramount, and individuals should not have to travel to other islands to receive health care especially in a global pandemic,” said President of the foundation Nurse Brenda Daley. “For the past 25 years Glendon hospital has been situated in St John’s Primary School with limited essential lifesaving equipment… it is time for change.”
The non-profit is concerned that with the UK government’s recent announcement cuts to their foreign aid package, this will inevitably have a direct impact on Montserrat which will not be beneficial to the island. This concern, they say, makes the need for Helping Hands for Glendon more urgent than ever. This was not the time to wait for someone else to solve the island’s ongoing healthcare challenge, it was time for the people to take a proactive approach in investing in their own healthcare.
The group set themselves an ambitious target to tackle what has been a growing area of need for Montserratian women. They want to purchase a mammogram machine, which costs in the region of £200,000.
“We acknowledge that this is a huge goal, however we do believe it is achievable. A year on from where we started we have raised an outstanding £10,000 of course this is no where near £200,000 but it’s a dent in our goal and we are optimistic we will reach our target,” said Denise Scantlebury, who along with her sister Deidre coordinate the organisation’s publicity and outreach work.
“We are looking into match funding and other funding streams to maximise what we have already raised. We acknowledge that we have set ourselves a high benchmark, but we are dedicated to the task at hand. We commend and applaud the Pink Ribbon Charity who have successfully drawn awareness to the importance of breast cancer, and we want to build on what they have achieved by Montserrat having their own mammogram machine which is accessible to all,” Daley added.
“However, we do recognise that a mammogram machine is a long term goal financially, therefore in the interim we will be spending some of the money raised on other lifesaving equipment such as an ECG machine which is already in budget of what we have already raised.”
A common thread that the organisation has found is that many Montserratians now living in the Diaspora would love to return to live on the island, but the main concern the state of healthcare. Issues such as ongoing dialysis and assisting patients who have had a stroke. “The answer to these questions is no. This level of care is not available on the island. If these facilities were available on the island many would return home to support their community,” the officials said.
Every Little Bit Helps
As of Friday January 29, 2021 Helping Hands for Glendon has raised £10,000. The began with £5 and consider the current tally a massive accomplishment, given the ongoing global pandemic.
“It gives us the motivation to keep pushing forward,” Daley shared.
One of the high points for the group was the month of October 2020.
“People were starting to recognise who we were as a charity and what we were trying to achieve. We received more followers on our social media platforms and our donations were starting to increase due to public awareness which helped to elevate our vision. Another high point was raising awareness of prevalent health care concerns, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.
“We have made progressive steps to where we are now, because we have shown transparency and have demonstrated a monthly account of finances we have received. This we feel has built trust with the community that follows us, and we want to continue building these effective partnerships.”
A Team Effort
The group recognises that their contributions are only a drop in the bucket of what will be needed to provide residents of Montserrat, top quality healthcare.
“We have engaged with the Montserrat UK Office, Programme Management Office in Montserrat, Monserrat Ministry of Health and Social Care, and members of the current Montserrat government, and our initial feedback has been positive and they are in support of what we are doing. Therefore, we want to continue updating these groups on our progress.
“Our support from the hospital staff has been positive and we have received a number of testimonials from medical professionals who have worked/working at Glendon hospital and we have more to come.
“We have started engaging with local businesses and residents, but we know this is an area of development for our charity. Soon you will be seeing donation boxes popping up around the island giving people easier access in donating to our care.”
What is next?
The group is using the power of social media to continue to increase awareness about their fundraising campaign. There are a range of exciting themes on promoting health and wellbeing that will be shared across social media in the weeks ahead. Other ways they are communicating with the public are through local radio, word of mouth, online newspapers and a WhatsApp group.
Moving forward they aim to
- Build effective links with local business
- Raise more money to buy essential lifesaving equipment
- Host fundraising events on the island of Montserrat
- Hosting rooms in social media platforms such as Clubhouse and Facebook to raise awareness of the charity
“Helping Hands for Glendon is not just a charity. It is a concept built on an idea that ‘we’ can support one another to help build something bigger than dreamed, that is building a health care system that we all have had a hand in creating and being a part of. Something that is unique to us all.”
How to Connect and Donate
Donate to Helping Hands for Glendon as every helping hand makes a difference:
Find out more about us through the following:
Instagram – @helping_handsglendon
Facebook – @helpinghandsforglendon
Twitter – @forglendon
Website – helpinghandsforglendon.org
Email – email@example.com
Wordpress blog – helpinghandsforglendonblog.wordpress.com
Linktree – https://linktr.ee/helpinghandsforglendon
WhatsApp: 07957 976403
Go Fund Me: gofundme.com/1wo7srb7yo
Montserrat – Bank of Montserrat – Hands for Glendon account – Account Number: 652 1479