Marie Curie: Who They Are and What They Do

Marie Curie: Who They Are and What They Do

Who are they?

Founded in 1948, Marie Curie is a registered charity, here for people living with any terminal illness, and their families. They offer expert care, guidance and support to help them get the most from the time they have left.

Marie Curie’s nurses work night and day in people’s homes across the UK, providing hands-on care and vital emotional support. Their nine hospices offer specialist round-the-clock care in a friendly, welcoming environment. They also support people throughout their illness by giving practical information, support from trained volunteers and being there when someone wants to talk.

How many people do they help?

Marie Curie provides care and support for more than 40,000 people living with a terminal illness and their families in the UK each year.

Last year alone, Marie Curie nurses provided more than 1.3 million hours of nursing to 31,558 people and their hospices helped 8,931 people – Marie Curie are the largest provider of hospice beds outside the NHS. Their hospices are in Belfast, Bradford, Cardiff and the Vale, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hampstead, Liverpool, Newcastle and the West Midlands.

Where did it all begin?

Marie Curie’s origins are linked to the Marie Curie Hospital in Hampstead.

In 1948, following the destruction of most of the hospital in World War 2, five committee members set up to oversee rebuilding of the hospital decided to separate themselves from the newly founded NHS and establish the name of Marie Curie in the charitable medical field.

Initially known as the ‘Marie Curie International Memorial’ and then the ‘Marie Curie Memorial Foundation’, the charity is known today as simply ‘Marie Curie.’ Fundraising for the new charity began when a woman donated her engagement ring, which sold for £75. The foundation then launched an appeal which raised £4,000.

In 1952, the first Marie Curie Home for cancer patients was opened in an old National Trust property, the Hill of Tarvit in Cupar, Fife. During the 1950s and early 1960s, the charity opened nine more Marie Curie Homes in adapted buildings.

Marie Curie has always been focused on offering nursing support to those who need it at home and, after initially providing grants to support night nursing by other organisations, began running its own day and night nursing service in 1958.

In the 1960s the charity decided that old converted buildings, some in remote locations, were far from ideal, and that all future homes would be purpose-designed and built. From the early 1980s, Marie Curie moved away from providing long-term nursing care to cancer patients, and became increasingly focused on hospice care.

Marie Curie has gone from strength to strength over the years. Following the first ever daffodil fundraising appeal in 1988, the daffodil was incorporated into the charity’s logo, where it remains today.

How do they achieve their goals?

Marie Curie Nurses

Marie Curie Nurses make it possible for people to die peacefully at home, surrounded by their loved ones. The nurses generally provide one-to-one nursing care and support overnight in people’s homes, usually for eight or nine hours. There are nearly 2,000 Marie Curie Nurses working across the UK.

Marie Curie Hospices

Marie Curie’s hospices offer the reassurance of round-the-clock, expert care and support, in a friendly, welcoming environment.

People don’t need to come and stay in the hospices to get support from them; they also offer a range of services for people just visiting, including counselling and complementary therapies.

Researching better care

Marie Curie is a leader in research into better ways of caring for people with terminal illnesses. They incorporate what they learn into the care and support they provide, and share it with others to make care better for everyone.


Marie Curie campaign on behalf of people living with a terminal illness and their families to ensure they have access to the high-quality support they need when they need it most.

How is the charity funded?

It costs Marie Curie around £60,000 per day to run its nine hospices across the UK. This requires an army of dedicated volunteers, and relies heavily on support from individuals, local groups and businesses.

The hospices could not function without their volunteers. Each hospice has around 120 dedicated volunteers who take on a wide variety of roles, from working at the hospice shop to driving patients to appointments. The bereavement teams also rely on volunteers, and most of the complementary therapies are provided by volunteer therapists.

To find out more about Marie Curie and ways you can support them, take a look at the Marie Curie website.

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