St Albans service run by local mum selling coffee and cakes to support carers of sick children

The crowd at the 2016 CST cake sale. Photo: Emma Collins Photography

The crowd at the 2016 CST cake sale. Photo: Emma Collins Photography - Credit: Archant

The St Albans volunteer-run Carer Support Team (CST) is holding a coffee and cake sale on Sunday, to support those caring for children at Watford hospital.

The CST team in November 2016. The team is now 16 in number. Photo: Emma Collins Photography

The CST team in November 2016. The team is now 16 in number. Photo: Emma Collins Photography - Credit: Archant

St Albans mother Suzanne Boon began the CST in 2014 after seeing her daughter Annie undergo treatment at Starfish Children’s Ward at Watford General Hospital.

Annie underwent experimental surgery, with just a 50-50 chance of survival, after being diagnosed with a hole in her diaphragm.

Suzanne said: “We noticed the NHS staff were overworked, and not thinking about the carer, who is expected to be on the kids’ ward 24/7.

“Carers even have their own bed next to their child, which is wonderful but incredibly stressful.”

Children's entertainment at the 2016 CST cake sale. Photo: Emma Collins Photography

Children's entertainment at the 2016 CST cake sale. Photo: Emma Collins Photography - Credit: Archant

Suzanne, a 43-year-old mother-of-two, stressed the NHS staff have supported the CST from the start.

But as a carer, Suzanne needed more help organising her care, such as information on where she could buy food at night.

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“Often it would not be the doctors and nurses responsible to tell you because they have more important things to be doing.

“We have a section to tell you: where can I buy food at 8pm, where can I park my car, where are the facilities? There are newly immigrant families who we bring translators for.

Children's entertainment at the 2016 CST cake sale. Photo: Emma Collins Photography

Children's entertainment at the 2016 CST cake sale. Photo: Emma Collins Photography - Credit: Archant

“It’s just trying to catch the things that fall through the net.”

With running costs totalling £20,000, CST hopes the event will help fund practical support for carers and staff at the children’s services of Watford hospital.

One carer who benefited from their services described them as: “The best team of just lovely people who understand and listen, provide support, sanity, warmth.

“To be able to pop out for a drink and fresh air is all you need to keep going and this team provide that and more.”

Some of the delicious cakes from the CST cake sale. Photo: Emma Collins Photography

Some of the delicious cakes from the CST cake sale. Photo: Emma Collins Photography - Credit: Archant

In 2015, the Care Quality Commission praised the CST for its “outstanding practice”, adding: “Parents we spoke with told us the practical and emotional support provided by the volunteers was valued by them.”

The coffee and cake sale is taking place between 11am and 3pm, at 33 Monks Horton Way, AL1 4HA.

For more information, visit www.carersupportteam.org.uk

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