More than 2,000 people sign petition to save cafe at Dewsbury and District Hospital

Campaigners fighting to save the volunteer-run café in the entrance to Dewsbury and District Hospital say it’s worth so much more than pounds, shillings and pence.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 1:00 pm
Claire Naughton and Lily Rose Beirne make a stand to help save the volunteer-run cafe at Dewsbury and District Hospital

Bosses at the hospital want to shut the Ridings Building café, claiming takings have slumped in recent years, meaning it no longer makes financial sense to keep it open.

Clare Naughton, who runs the Facebook campaign group Save Our Dewsbury Hospital, has launched a petition signed by well over 2,000 people. She plans to send it to Martin Barkley, chief executive of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Teaching assistant Clare, 47, said: “It not about pounds, shillings and pence, it’s about people. And people feel there is a real value in the café.

“There are more than 50 volunteers who staff it and the café is a huge part of their lives. The café gives them a purpose, and people like helping.

“The café also has a value to patients. I had some bad news at the hospital myself and the café provided a little sanctuary when I needed it.”

Clare, a mum-of-two from White Lee, Batley, said the response to the petition proved the public didn’t want the café to close.

“It’s a valuable community resource which no-one wants to lose,” she added.

Back in 2018 the trust recognised the social value of the café when it introduced a “chatter and natter” table.

“Chatter and natter” is part of the Chatty Café scheme set up by Alexandra Hoskyn, who was moved after seeing an elderly woman sitting alone in a supermarket café.

At the time it was introduced Vikki Padgett, head of voluntary services at the hospital, spoke in a press release about the “great sense of community here in Dewsbury”.

She added: “Café volunteers already have a pastoral aspect to their role, welcoming patients and visitors with a friendly smile and conversation.

“I believe the ‘chatter and natter’ table will add to our great volunteer service.”

The trust originally planned to close the café at the end of March.

But it back-tracked after volunteers turned to the Reporter series for help, claiming they hadn’t been properly consulted.

A final decision is expected within the next two months.