“I became Coffee Shop Manager at the Ashgate Coffee Co. coffee shop in August 2016, ahead of its opening in the October. I wanted to work for Ashgate Hospicecare because my dad had not long since died. He wasn’t cared for by the hospice, but he was well cared for and it was wonderful to think that, by using my skills and experience, I could help people living with a terminal illness and at the end of their lives. I wanted a challenge and, with this being a new venture for the hospice, I was keen to take it on.
We didn’t expect that, very quickly, our coffee shop would become an important hub for the Clowne community. I don’t come from Clowne, I’m from another part of Chesterfield. However, I was quickly embraced by the customers as a member of their community. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I feel as though everybody who comes through our doors becomes part of my extended family. When I pop to the supermarket around the corner, I can see as many as 15 people who are coffee shop customers! It’s such a close-knit community and it’s lovely to be part of that.
I feel as though I belong to Clowne now and I think that’s why it works so well. We take time to get to know our customers and have a laugh with them.
One of the best things about my job is having the ability to plan events at the coffee shop that benefit the local community and that also raise extra funds for the hospice. We’ve hosted three seasonal fashion shows, which have all been really successful and well received. We sold out of tickets really quickly for those. We’ve done a harvest supper, Christmas and Easter craft fairs and a Santa’s Grotto. I’d like to plan more events and get as many different people as possible from across the community involved.
Of course, none of this would be possible without our dedicated team of staff and volunteers who have also become part of my family. We’ve got a diverse group of volunteers and most of them come from Clowne or the surrounding area. This is not only nice for our customers but has also meant that the coffee shop has brought new opportunities for those in the area who perhaps wouldn’t be able to get all the way over to the hospice to work or volunteer.
It’s great to see our staff and volunteers develop here. One of our youngest volunteers, Jasmine, was awarded Young Volunteer of the Year at the Chesterfield Voluntary Sector Awards in October 2018 at the age of 17. It was so well-deserved as she’s always keen to help us whenever she can. That’s what I mean, we just have an excellent team. It can be hard work when the coffee shop gets busy, but we all enjoy being here.
Working at the Ashgate Coffee Co. is very special because, as well as being a place for the local community, all the profits raised go to ensuring that our specialist nurses and healthcare assistants can continue to care for patients and their families across North Derbyshire. We’re also raising awareness of the work that Ashgate Hospicecare does for those who may not know. People often ask me questions and we’ll have a conversation about the hospice and what services it provides.
One customer told me that, when her husband was on the ward at Christmas time, the staff decorated tables for them and gave them both a glass of wine, which she thought was a lovely touch. She said, ‘It was as if we were at home. He couldn’t have been happier or more comfortable.’ I love hearing those stories because they remind me of how important the funds we raise are.
I get so much satisfaction from working here. A customer said to me the other day, ‘Do you know what, Sally, this place is the best thing that’s happened to Clowne, and you’re the best thing that’s ever happened’. She said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s brilliant!’. It’s so humbling to hear feedback like that.”