Speech after Stroke volunteers recognised for outstanding contribution to west Cumbrian community

Speech after stroke volunteers from west Cumbria have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to their community at an event in Cockermouth last week.  The volunteers, ages range from 18 -82 cover an area from Wigton to Millom including Workington and Whitehaven give over 250 hours of their time each month to support people who have had a stroke.

Following their recent nomination for a Queen's Award they were presented with a lapel pin by Professor Robin Talbot, Chair of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust at an event to celebrate and thank volunteers. The unique UK national honour was created by Her Majesty to mark the Golden Jubilee in 2002 and to recognise the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups of volunteers. Almost 70 people, stroke survivors, their families and volunteers attend the event at Hundith Hill on 4th September.

Alison Tams scheme coordinator said “our patients are often worried, frightened and unsure of their future. They have to learn to cope with huge changes which can be difficult, challenging and can become isolated as their friends and family aren’t sure how to cope. Also they are a listening ear, give constructive advice, empathy and understanding. They celebrate and highlight each success and improvement. All this for no financial reward but purely because they want to help.  Some of our volunteers have suffered strokes themselves and can empathise with patients in a way that staff can never achieve, using their experiences to help others. They change local people’s lives for the better at a time when they need it most”.

Sylvia Thompson aged 78 a volunteer for 15 years from Seascale said” I enjoy being a volunteer and if you can help someone it is great. Everyone is different with different needs.

Robert Watson a stroke survivor aged 69 from Whitehaven said” I play boccia at the Oval, and attend lunch meetings. I get on with all of the volunteers, they go out of their way to be understanding and everyone joins in. Everyone is so friendly”.

Professor Robin Talbot, Chair of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said, “I’m honoured to be able to thank the volunteers in person today.  It’s remarkable to hear some of their stories and the real impact they have on the lives of patients and their recovery following a stroke.”

The scheme is part of the speech and language therapy department and works with adult patients in the community. It is totally dependent on a team of highly valued, trained volunteers who work in a group and on a one to one basis. There are men’s and ladies conversation groups, boccia (a local form of bowls), lunch groups, board games, quiz and other activities tailored to individual needs. The volunteers also provide advocacy support and attend appointments with individuals to help them get the best out of their meetings. There are currently 26 volunteers who take part in the scheme.

Volunteers are recruited by the scheme coordinator in line with the Trust policy. If anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer please contact Alison Tams email Alison.tams@cumbria.nhs.uk or telephone 01900 705082