Celebrations as popular cafe at Dewsbury Hospital is saved

Volunteers are celebrating after winning their fight to keep open a popular café at Dewsbury and District Hospital.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 4:40 pm
Clare Naughton, Lynda Dews and Rosemary Buckingham, volunteers at The Ridings voluntary cafe, celebrate being able to keep the cafe open at Dewsbury and District Hospital

More than 4,000 people signed a petition to force hospital bosses into a U-turn.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, announced plans to shut the café – in the entrance to the Ridings Building – at the end of March.

Trust bosses said the café was not financially viable but the closure threat provoked a public outcry.

Flashback: Clare Naughton and Lily Rose Beirne making a stand to help save the Dewsbury Hospital volunteers cafe earlier this year

Clare Naughton, of the Facebook group Save Our Dewsbury Hospital launched an online petition signed by 2,200 people, while volunteers in the café started a paper petition signed by almost 2,000.

The café has two paid staff and around 30 volunteers, many of whom claimed they knew nothing about the closure plans despite the trust saying everyone had been consulted.

The trust has now apologised for the uncertainty and upset caused.

Clare said: “It’s great the trust has listened to the volunteers and the public and have admitted they got it wrong.

“This café is a brilliant little place and what we need to do now is build it up and keep it going. The message is ‘use it or lose it.’ We hope people in the hospital will support it.”

Earlier the trust denied there were plans to replace the café with a big chain coffee shop such as Costa and Clare said she wanted Dewsbury Hospital to retain its community feel, not be turned into a “soulless airport terminal” like Pinderfields at Wakefield.

Rose Buckingham, 76, who started volunteering at the café after the death of her husband Roger, said: “I went to pieces after I lost my husband. The café gave me a new interest. I love talking to people – it’s my favourite pastime!

“I’m over the moon. Everyone who came in signed our petition.”

Coffee shop organiser Lynda Dews, one of the paid staff along with Harry Hall, said: “The volunteers are lovely. Everybody is really pleased. Now we want people to come and put money in the till.”

David Melia, director of nursing and quality at the trust, said: “We have been impressed by the passion our volunteers have shown and have listened closely to the strength of feeling about the café.

“We recognise that to close this service would be a great loss.

“The original decision to explore closure was based on the decrease in people using thecafé.

“We appreciate we could have managed the situation better and apologise for the uncertainty and upset this has caused.

“Clearly, we do need to make sure that the café is able to meet its own costs and maintain an appropriate financial balance.

“However, we do now believe that, with the passion and commitment of the volunteers working with us, there are different opportunities we can explore in order to move the service forward.”