A CHARITY which offers comfort in the form of complementary therapies to people with terminal illnesses has opened a shop in Hexham.

Lifespan, which was set up in 2005 and covers an area from the Scottish Borders down into County Durham, sends therapists into people’s homes who have been referred to the charity.

But the service comes at a cost and thanks to an anonymous donor, the Hexham-based organisation has been able to take on an initial six-month lease of a shop in Market Street.

“This hopefully will make everyone aware that we are here,” said operational manager Sheila Webb. “Everything we have there has been donated – clothes, bric-a-brac, books. And we have a lot of new things from the local retail community like hats, scarves and jewellery.”

The charity is closely linked with the Motor Neurone Disease Unit at the RVI in Newcastle where a lot of its referrals come from.

"There are more and more neurological diseases and there is a lot about neurological illnesses we can’t do a lot with,” said Sheila.

“They are terrible diseases and it is particularly important for these patients because they have muscle spasms so they cannot eat or talk. So someone showing a little care and sympathy for that person for an hour or half an hour is very supportive.”

The types of therapies offered include reiki, light massage, relaxing sound therapy and art therapy, where someone will spend time painting with a patient.

“Dealing with the dying is very difficult,” said Sheila. “You have to have a certain mentality. Our therapists know they are going to lose their patients. The therapists become friends and it is very very hard for them. I say, you might have a patient for a year, you might have a patient for two days. They do a wonderful job and we just need more money.”

The Lifespan shop is open from Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.