Appeal is launched to help St Catherine’s Hospice carers

Frances Stanley with St Catherine's Hospice 'befriender' Linda Middleton
Frances Stanley with St Catherine's Hospice 'befriender' Linda Middleton
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A Lancashire hospice which provides a lifeline for carers is appealing for new volunteers.

The Family Support Team at St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall set up a Carers’ Befriending Service to give people the opportunity to take a break from their caring role.

It has provided a lifeline for 17 families since it was set up 15 months ago.

Now the team, which consists of three qualified social workers who are employed by the hospice, is recruiting volunteers in the hope that the service can be extended.

Former carer Frank Stanley received the support of the service last year during his late wife Frances’ battle with cancer.

Linda Middleton, a former Wigan milk lady who now lives in Preston, was her befriender, visiting their home in Ashton for a couple of hours twice a week. Frank and Frances were married for 43 years before her death last March.

He said: “Having the support of Linda through the Befriending Service really took a weight of my shoulders.

“I had more confidence when I was out and about, I wasn’t worrying all the time about Frances and how she was. Before, I used to dash into town and back to do the shopping – I’d be forgetting things and making mistakes.

“Having Linda there for a couple of hours allowed me to take my time, and do things properly.

“It can be stressful caring for someone who is ill, particularly towards the end, when Frances relied on me for nearly everything. Linda’s visits were a lifeline, it felt like I could breathe again, they made things that little bit easier.”

Frank, 74, added: “I think a lot of people, from my generation especially, have preconceived ideas about hospice care and believe St Catherine’s is only somewhere you go to die, but that’s not true.

“The Befriending Service is just one of many other services they provide, not only for the person who is ill, but for their families too.”

Cheryl Scott, family support manager, added: “We would love to hear from anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer with the service – helping more people experience the difference it can make.”

For more information about becoming a volunteer with the St Catherine’s Carers’ Befriending Service and the three-day training course – which takes place from March 6 to 8 – contact Nikki Dobson, volunteer co-ordinator on 01772 629171 or email