New aphasia café to open in Barnsley


A new aphasia friendly café is set to open in Barnsley later this year to help people suffering from the condition who live in the area. Opening in September the new café will give support and advice to people with aphasia.

Aphasia is a communication disability which occurs when the communication centres of the brain are damaged. It affects approximately one third of people who have had a stroke, but it can also be caused by brain haemorrhage, head injury or tumours.

People with aphasia may live for many years with significant communication difficulties and struggle to access opportunities for social interaction. It often leads to increased social isolation, low mood and means that people need a lot of support from speech and language therapy services. The café aims to address these issues for people in Barnsley and the surrounding area.

Support is available for people with aphasia from the Trust’s speech and language therapy team – who help them to increase their independence and maximise their abilities where possible. They can also attend a monthly ‘speakability’ meeting, run by people with the condition.

To offer additional support for people with the condition the idea for a cafe was proposed – giving people the opportunity to meet others with the condition. To make sure that the café meets the demands of local people, a focus group was held to gather feedback and views from people with aphasia on how they would like it to be run.

During the focus group each attendee worked with a facilitator to help explain each question and ensure that they could communicate their views successfully. Talking mats were also used to ensure everyone could understand each question being asked and feedback their responses into the group.

One of the talking mats used during the focus group
One of the talking mats used during the focus group

Emilie Verroken, clinical lead speech and language therapist at the Trust, said: “We are really excited about the prospect of running an aphasia café in Barnsley to help support local people in their community. Listening to people who use our services is at the heart of what we do. By listening to people who have aphasia we can ensure that the service we provide is the best it can possibly be and meets the needs of the local population.

“We hope that the café will support people with aphasia to share their experiences, develop their confidence in communicating with others and practice the skills they have learnt throughout their treatment.”

The café will be:

  • Held fortnightly in a quiet and safe place
  • Allow people to drop in on the sessions when convenient
  • Be organised primarily for people with aphasia but also give the option of bringing a friend, carer or partner along
  • Be set up by a professional who would help train volunteers
  • In the long term be taken over by volunteers, including people with aphasia, but would also have professional involvement

If you are interested in finding out more about the café, or would like to register your interest in attending the café please contact Emilie Verroken by emailing

New aphasia café to open in Barnsley

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