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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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Bidding to build better support network for Cumbria's carers

Hospice worker Wendy Ashton is on a mission to build a better support network for those who care for people with life-limiting illnesses.

Support group photo
From left, social worker Becky Chaddock, student nurse Suzanne Parsons, councillor Tori Barker-Ross and Wendy Ashton

She is about to launch a new series of drop-in sessions to encourage carers – and the people they look after – to meet others in a similar position.

Based at Carlisle’s Eden Valley Hospice, Wendy’s post as a palliative care social worker is currently funded by Macmillan Cancer Support.

But the informal coffee mornings, which start next week at the city’s Crown and Mitre Hotel, are open to those affected by any kind of life-limiting illness, including cancer, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis.

Wendy, who has been working alongside Age UK, hopes to reach out to people who have not yet come into contact with the hospice and its existing support services.

She said: “The drop-in coffee mornings are for carers and the cared for person if they want to come along too. It’s entirely up to them.

“We have had a lot of feedback from people who say they don’t get out as a couple much, so this is a chance for them to meet others in a similar situation.

“It’s also a chance for carers to meet other carers, get support, guidance, information – whatever they want. It’s meant to be informal.”

The sessions are an extension of the hospice’s existing Sunflower Group – an eight-week support and advice programme for carers which includes weekly speakers.

Carers who attend the coffee morning will have the chance to join the other group and access other local services if they feel it would help.

The first coffee morning is on Wednesday, April 25, from 10.15am to 12.15pm, in the hotel’s upstairs drawing room.

Initially they will be held every second month.

Work is also underway to set up a carers’ group in Penrith, though people from all over the area are welcome to attend the Carlisle event.

Refreshments will be provided, though donations will be collected on behalf of the hospice. For more details contact Wendy on 01228 817655.

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