A DROP-IN stroke cafe held its first session in an area of Barnsley highlighted as a hotspot for people suffering strokes - in an effort to ensure support is extended beyond initial recovery.

The cafe initiative comes through a collaboration between the Stroke Association - a charitable organisation which offers support after strokes - and the stroke rehabilitation team at Kendray Hospital.

Based at the Snap Tin Cafe in Goldthorpe, the monthly meet-ups are set to host guest speakers including physiotherapists, psychologists and dieticians giving the most up to date information on stroke and recovery.

The location was chosen due to a disproportionate amount of stroke victims being from the area, with 19 per cent of referrals to the Stroke Association’s Barnsley Stroke Recovery Service being from the Dearne.

Gill Richmond-Burns, support coordinator for Barnsley, is leading the new monthly cafe.

“I was very happy with the turn out at the group as socialising and support can be vital in stroke recovery and rehabilitation,” she said.

“Coming out and meeting people can be such a huge factor in keeping well, as opposed to sitting alone at home which might make people feel worse.

“It was amazing how the people who turned up didn’t know eachother at all, but within the hour in it was like they’d known each other for years.

“We’re really happy we’ve been able to give people somewhere to come along and socialise, and meet people who have been through the same things as themselves.

“Unlike initial medical support after suffering a stroke, this cafe is something which won’t end.

“It will hopefully become a lifelong community for these people.”

Gill stressed that any stroke survivors can self-refer to the Stroke Association for support, it doesn’t have to be through the NHS or other institutions.

Dr Sophie Mackrell, lead psychologist from Kendray Hospital, who also attended the first cafe meetup to offer her support, said: “I’m thrilled this cafe has begun in the Dearne area, giving local stroke survivors and carers the opportunity of even greater access to care, advice, and support.

“I think the key thing here is support and empowerment - as having a stroke can be really lonely, and can leave lasting effects which non-stroke survivors sometimes don’t understand.

“It’s brilliant for local survivors to now be able to support each other in this way.”

Jennifer Gardner, association director for the Stroke Association added: “The Stroke Association is delighted to support this new drop-in cafe in Goldthorpe.

“Every stroke is different and so is every recovery, so it’s fantastic that we can help provide a space for everyone affected by stroke to come together, share experiences and support each other over a hot drink.

“Recovery can be tough but we hope places like our cafe will help, and we want to thank everyone that has made this happen.”

The cafe will run every second Friday of the month from 11am to 12pm and further information can be given from Gill Richmond-Burns by calling 07540 518025.