Princess Alexandra visits Sparky’s Café

Sparky's-Café-GuildfordOur new mental health support café in Guildford received a royal visit as part of HRH Princess Alexandra’s tour of Farnham Road Hospital.

Staff at Sparky’s, a social enterprise café providing people recovering from mental health and substance use problems, provided refreshments to delegates as they visited the refurbished NHS mental health hospital.

Derek Caren, group chief executive of Recovery Focus, spoke with HRH Princess Alexandra, a patron of Richmond Fellowship, about the growth of social enterprise projects and the importance of community based services such as Sparky’s on mental health recovery. He said:

“HRH Princess Alexandra has long been a patron of Richmond Fellowship and very supportive of our work. We were honored to have the opportunity to speak with her about Sparky’s Café and the impact that community based services can have on mental health recovery.
“The team at Sparky’s handled the event fantastically and there was great praise from everyone in attendance for the quality of refreshments and professionalism of the team.”

The royal visit, which took place on the afternoon of Thursday 28 April, began with a tour of the hospital led by the Trust’s Director of Mental Health and Social Care, Andy Erskine and Modern Matron, June Ryan.

Princess Alexandra was introduced to patients currently staying at the hospital, as well as other people who use the Trust’s services and carers. HRH also met staff who have been involved in the planning and construction of the facility.

Fiona Edwards, Chief Executive of Surrey and Borders Partnership, said:

“As patron of the mental health charities, MIND, Mental Health Foundation, and our partners Richmond Fellowship, we are delighted to welcome HRH Princess Alexandra back to Surrey to join us on this momentous occasion.
“Today marks a huge step forward for mental health services in Surrey and North East Hampshire.”

The royal visit was the first major event for Sparky’s Guildford who opened their doors to business on 25 April. Maria Ruiz, team leader at Sparky’s, said:

“The visit went really well and the whole team pulled together to provide quality refreshments.
“It’s not everyday you get to serve members of the royal family and the visit has given everyone here a huge boost as we get Sparky’s up and running.”

Also in attendance was Helen Edwards, the new group chair of Recovery Focus.

Click here for more information about Sparky’s Café and their work to support people with their recovery.

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