Haslingden charity shop that offers friendship and support to carers

Joan Collinge
Joan Collinge says the help point and charity shop has been a great comfort to her after her husband died

A charity hub that provides a listening ear and a "cup of tea" to unpaid carers and people who may feel alone is celebrating its first anniversary.

Carers Link Lancashire set up the information point and charity shop in Haslingden and said it had become an "essential service" for unpaid carers.

Volunteer Joanne Teoli said being able to help carers "means the world to me".

Joan Collinge, who cared for her husband, said the hub had been a "tremendous help" to her after he died.

The 77-year-old from Haslingden had cared for her husband who had Alzheimer's disease for seven years.

After he died she said she was reluctant to go through and sort through his clothes.

She went into the hub, which had just opened, and one of the volunteers went to her home to assist her with the daunting task.

"It was a tremendous help," she said.

Mrs Collinge said she had made lovely friends at the hub and encourages others to go there.

"It is absolutely brilliant. It's there for you - just open up and you can make tremendous friendships."

Ms Teoli said it "makes her very happy" to hear the impact of the help point and shop as "I've had things happen to me in my life and I didn't get that support".

The 71-year-old volunteer said: "It means the world to me."

She urged any unpaid carers to come to the hub, which stages a number of events over the year.

"Don't be alone," she said.

"If you need any help... if it is only for a talk and a cup of tea please do come and see us because that is what we are here for."

Carers Link Lancashire said more and more people were accessing the help point, which also has vital partnerships with other charities and businesses in the Rossendale area and offers other support services such as financial help.

Kathryn Murphy from the charity said: "Sometimes when you have that caring role and all those responsibilities, you do forget, or it is hard to find time to look after yourself, and that is what we are there for - to support them in that caring role.

"We have done so much in a year," she said.

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