.

Network aims to give support to amputees in North Staffordshire

A Cheadle woman has set up a new support network to give amputees in North Staffordshire someone to talk to.

Josephine Ashton reached out to the charity Amputation Foundation to set up a local branch, after being unable to find any groups in the county.

The 37-year-old had a through knee amputation in 2017, after being diagnosed with diabetic charcot - an infection in the bone of her foot and ankle which caused it to disintegrate.

She was left with a choice of whether to try antibiotics over a course of months, which would mean a long stay in hospital, but could still have to have an operation - or to have the amputation straight away.

The mum to five-year-old Eliza made the life changing decision to have the operation.

She said at first it was very hard, both physically and emotionally.

She said: "Undeniably it does become a very lonely world, especially those early days when you are coming to terms with it yourself.

"While you are in hospital you have health care staff running around looking after you, and then suddenly you are home.

"For a little while you have got people coming round to see if you are ok, but for me as I'm quite independent I didn't like people coming around and asking if I wanted things doing.

"Yes, initially I did need help, but I wanted my independence. 

"You don't want to be a burden on people asking for their help, which is one side that can affect your mental health.

"Then you have got the side that wants to be independent, and as people do start to back off and give you the space you've asked for you suddenly wonder where everyone has gone. 

"Then you can feel quite lonely.

"You would sit there staring at four walls, thinking 'I just want to talk to someone like me, who knows what I am thinking'.

"That is why I concluded that once I was in an ok place myself, I wanted to be able to help support other people, and create a network of us that can offer support.

"And then it is not so lonely."

Amputation Foundation Stoke has been meeting for several months, with the next coffee morning at Belong in Newcastle on Friday (28 February).

Josephine says they have been well received by those who attend, and they want to reach out to more people who may benefit from being a part of them.

She said: "They are open to amputees, friends, families and carers.

"It is just a way of giving back to people, to let them know it is not such a lonely world.

"The coffee mornings are designed as a peer support group really.

"I was quite elated to think that, one way or another, what I was doing was definitely needed, and it has helped the people who have come along so far.

There is more information on the Amputation Foundation charity here.

For more information on Amputation Foundation Stoke, and the monthly meet ups, go here.

More from Local