The Mill at St Catherine’s Hospice is a pioneering café and community hub. It not only helps fund the valuable work of the charity, it extends the care provided to local people through a range of innovative support services.
The Mill in Lostock Hall is a café and community hub run by St Catherine’s Hospice near Preston. It attracts 80,000 visits a year and receives five-star reviews and feedback from customers regarding its food, service, and atmosphere.
Proceeds from the café and its associated catering service, The Mill Outside, all help to fund the hospice’s specialist palliative and end-of-life care. This ground-breaking project also provides dedicated support to people affected by serious illnesses in its own right.
The Mill opened three years ago as a unique fundraising venture for the charity, and as a way of inviting the wider public into the hospice grounds of St Catherine’s Park. The idea was to create an informal, non-clinical setting which offered a first introduction to the hospice for some, and a place to re-connect with the charity for others who had experienced hospice services in the past.
Today, The Mill at St Catherine’s also offers a place for people to come together, socialise, and seek support. It provides information and light-touch therapies, helping people to live better and more independently with their conditions.
The idea is that, by working in this way, St Catherine’s is able to empower the community to help themselves and each other.
Guidance and support
Volunteer advisors are on hand in the café to speak with anyone wanting guidance on a range of issues associated with serious illness and end-of-life care. They signpost customers to appropriate services provided by St Catherine’s that are open to all – such as carers’ drop-ins and bereavement support sessions – as well as recommending other local organisations and charities which can help.
Advisor Janice Platt said: “I came into The Mill café one day and was greeted by a volunteer, and decided that was something I wanted to do myself. I underwent two days’ training with St Catherine’s for The Mill Advisor role, which helped immensely.
“I’m very comfortable speaking with people, and you have to judge if people are here because they want some company, advice or emotional support, or if they’re just here for a coffee or some lunch,” said Janice.
“I just ask people if I can help. You don’t realise, until you start, how rewarding it is.”
The Mill also host various events alongside local organisations that offer support and services to the public.
Lorraine Charlesworth, the charity’s director of community and income, said: “Working with local organisations which complement the work of St Catherine’s means we’re able to extend the reach of our services further.
“St Catherine’s is a trusted name and if we can partner with equally-reputable organisations for the benefit of local people, that’s something we should take advantage of,” said Lorraine.
“Wills Week is an excellent example of this; it’s a simple but very effective scheme which raises thousands for the hospice, at the same time as giving us the chance to communicate with our supporters about the importance of making a will, getting their affairs in order, and planning for the end of life.
“This is just one example of how the care of St Catherine’s extends much further than the hospice building. Likewise, our Knowledge Exchange teams go out into the community to share their expert knowledge and specialist skills on subjects such as symptom management, ‘advance care planning’, and dealing with grief,” explained Lorraine.
Breaking down barriers
The Mill also host various educational courses which are open to the general public at the hospice – see the box at the bottom of this page to find out more.
Lorraine said: “All of this is part of our efforts to break down barriers historically associated with hospices, dispelling myths about them being scary, miserable places, and inviting our communities to be part of what St Catherine’s is really like and what we’re all about.”
“We aim to inspire and excite people to support us in any way they can – from fundraising and volunteering, to visiting our charity shops or calling at The Mill – and encourage them to make the most of the variety of ways we offer practical and emotional support,” she said.
“We’re proud of how The Mill has opened our doors to the wider community and created new ways for people to connect with St Catherine’s.”
What’s on at The Mill?
The Mill Wheel
Fortnightly socials welcoming people living with conditions such as motor neurone disease, cancer, heart failure and MS to come together to access peer support and enjoy diversional activities such as crafts and games.
Held each month in partnership with Birchall Blackburn Law. These informal drop-in sessions offer people the opportunity to access free advice about wills, Lasting Power of Attorney, inheritance tax and managing a loved one’s finances.
STREAM (STress, RElaxation & Anxiety Management)
A regular programme hosted by St Catherine’s and the North West Fatigue Clinic, which helps those with cancer-related fatigue to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Hosted in the James de Lostock upstairs function room.
Wellbeing activities and services including yoga, pilates, counselling, chiropody and podiatry are regularly held at The Mill, as well as special interest events.
On the last Friday of every month, The Mill hosts themed nights in the café.
Upcoming themed evenings for 2018 include tapas, Far Eastern, seafood, and French, as well as ‘An Evening with the Apprentice’, and a Game and Lancashire Delicacies Evening.
Rooms for hire
The café and Lostock Room are available to hire for corporate purposes, or special occasions and celebrations such as birthday or anniversary parties – all providing further income to fund the care of the hospice.
Article by Kay Taylor