Care for the elderly in Northumberland.
Our hard-working Deputy Manager at Charlotte Straker House is Iwona (pronounced “Eve-vonna”) Proszowska.
Iwona and her family are from Rumia, a city in the Eastern Pomerania region of north-western Poland. In 2005,
Iwona already had 15 years’ experience as a registered nurse in Poland, and she moved to the UK to continue her career in the North East of England.
“When I moved to England I had to leave my husband and three children behind for a few months, whilst I sorted out my work and living arrangements. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, to leave them for so long. It was very difficult, but I wanted to do it, to make a better life for our family.”
In July 2006 her husband Robert joined her in the UK. Then three months later, in September 2006, her three children, Adrian, Rafal and Karol moved and promptly started school in Ovingham and Prudhoe.
“The language was tricky. My children picked up English very quickly but we all found the Geordie accent a bit incomprehensible for a while!”
When she moved to the UK, Iwona found “a lot of support. Most people were very kind and welcomed us with open arms. Occasionally, there was difficulties: we had someone write anti-Polish graffiti on our car, but mostly everyone was lovely, and helped us a lot.”
Her youngest child Sofie was born in 2009 and she is bilingual, speaking both Polish and English.
After joining Charlotte Straker in 2014, Iwona was made Deputy Manager. Her husband also joined, working as a care assistant on night shifts.
Iwona also manages our Community Respite Care Bed and lights up with enthusiasm when she talks about the facility,
“I see some very tired, and very desperate families that need our support, and I am so pleased that I can help them with providing respite care. You can see the relief of their faces when I tell them that they can relax, and we will care for their relatives for a while. I had one lovely lady who brought her elderly husband for respite care for five days. She told me that she was so exhausted, that whilst we were looking after her husband she stayed in bed for four days, just to recover. I can see how much the Respite Care Bed is needed, and this makes me determined to keep the facility open, full to the brim and part of the Charlotte Straker project forever”.
As Deputy Manager, Iwona is responsible for the clinical side at Charlotte Straker House,
“We have some very passionate, very committed staff in our care home. Charlotte Straker employs some excellent staff, and it is such a gift to be able to work with nurses and carers like myself, who are enthusiastic about giving the best possible care to our residents. I love my job, and I like to make a difference to resident’s lives and to make them as comfortable and happy as I possibly can. I have made many good friends in this nursing home, and I love the fact that we have such a good team, that are trustworthy and are as passionate as I am about our residents.
Outside Charlotte Straker, Iwona tries to spend as much time as she can with her family,
“As Robert works nightshifts, we don’t see each other that much, but when we can we like to go out to walk our dogs in the countryside. I also love ice-skating, except I’ve just cracked a rib falling on the ice, so I won’t be able to go for a while!”
Thank you to Iwona – if you would like to discuss any aspect of respite care please give her a call on 01434 633999.
I sat down with Charlotte Straker resident Margaret Young, to ask her about her life and children. She sits in her neat room, in a comfortable chair and prepares to tell me about her teaching career and living in the centre of Newcastle in the 1950s and 60s.
She has a picture of her wedding day on her dresser. In the photo she is wearing a beautiful 1950s style nipped in dress with a wide flaring skirt, and a neat hat. Her husband looks very smart in a double-breasted suit.
“When I was married, I moved to Newcastle upon Tyne with my husband Jack. That dress was pale blue, as we couldn’t get white material, due to rationing”, she tells me, pointing to the picture, “you had to have so many coupons, and they were difficult to get hold of. And I made that hat from some fabric and net that was left over.”
She continues, “During the war, Jack worked in the shipyards in Sunderland, so after retraining, he moved to Hexham to start work as woodwork teacher, and I started as a teacher at the new school in Longbenton”.
Margaret taught juniors and seniors at Longbenton for 12 months, and then left to have her first child Anthony.
“I had six children in total, one after the other and at one point, had six children under seven years old!” she tells me with a laugh. “I didn’t have a lot of help as my family was still in Wolverhampton, although Jack’s sisters used to come when they could, to give me a hand. I remember sitting them all in the big, wide pram we used to have. I put two babies at the top end, two at the bottom end, and two more walking. They were all on “baby reins” up to three years old because as toddlers as it was impossible to keep an eye on them all. It was hard work, but we had lots of fun. I remember bouncing the pram as I walked along the street, making all the children laugh. My husband thought I was mad!”
She was very proud when two of her children, Anthony and Vanda, won scholarships to the RGS and Central High School in Newcastle.
Margaret says, “We didn’t have a lot of money, and I remember being terribly worried about affording the uniforms for these private schools. Luckily, there were second hand shops that I could buy clothes at a discount. It was hard to make ends meet. We couldn’t afford for the children to go on any school trips, so instead, we used to holiday in the Lake District. We had an old Bedford van with slatted seats. I made cushions for the seats, and took sleeping bags, and piled in all the camping gear. We pulled two wooden boats behind the van and I wanted to hang all the saucepans from their gunwales for a bit of space! We went to the Lake District like that with the children crammed in the back. It was our second home, and everyone loved it.”
After the children were a little older, Margaret went back to work as a teacher at Cruddas Park School in Scotswood, Newcastle and she taught there for another 18 years.
“It was a lovely school”, she remembers. “It was a deprived area, but the parents, for the most part, were good people. No one had much money, but we knew all the families and I got to know their circumstances. The children were wonderful, and I loved every one of them. I remember my husband visiting the school, and he told me that every child he met was polite and well-behaved.”
Margaret tells me about some of her classes, “I remember teaching one group of seven-year-olds and I was trying to persuade them to join my choir. Well, they wouldn’t. They told me that singing was sissy. So, the next day I brought in a record of a Welsh male voice choir. I told them that they were all miners. ‘And were miners sissy?’ After that they all wanted to sing. I changed their mind!”
She used some traditional teaching methods. “I used to teach times-tables and spellings by rote and make them stand up to practice them. And we did mental arithmetic out loud in class. The children loved it. I never had any trouble with discipline. They were honestly very good-natured children.”
After Margaret and Jack retired from teaching, they moved away from Denton Burn to a house in Prudhoe. “My husband Jack was well known in Hexham and as he was a woodwork teacher at Queen Elizabeth School he used to be called Jackie Plank! Everyone knew him. After retiring, we used to enjoy just being in the house, doing the garden and going on trips.”
After her husband died Margaret moved into Charlotte Straker House. She has 13 grand-children and 5 great-grandchildren.
“I’m proud of all my children. They are all in professional careers and have families. Although I tell them I could have done with someone useful, like a brickie or a tiler!” she says with a twinkle.
When it was time to choose a care home, her children visited lots of different homes in the North East. “Charlotte Straker was the nicest. Just the carers and the nurses and the general feel of the place” she says, “I love it here. I like the staff, and the chat and I love the food.”
Margaret’s children (Anthony, John, Paul, Vanda, Yvonne and Ingrid), grand-children and great-grand-children visit regularly, and she goes on most of the outings organised by our Activities Coordinator, Karen. A couple of weeks ago, her daughters took her to see the ballet in Newcastle.
“I do enjoy it here. I feel well looked after, and I love chatting with my friends” she tells me.
I tell Margaret that I need to show her this interview before it’s published.
“I’ll check it carefully with my teacher’s red pen,” she tells me laughing, “you might get a big tick and a star at the end!”
Made by the talented Ian Wylie from the Visit Corbridge website – showcasing the models, outfits and dancing from the Fashion Show evening on 20th March – enjoy!
We are absolutely delighted to announce that yesterday’s charity Fashion Shows raised approximately £4,000! This total will be split between ourselves and our co-organisers the Corbridge Youth Initiative
We’d like to send a sincere THANK YOU to all the #Corbridge traders, organisations, volunteers and everyone who worked so hard to host the two shows.
The support and camaraderie amongst the traders, volunteers, models, organisations was amazing, and we feel honoured to be part of such a wonderful village.
Special thanks go to:
Pamela, John & the team at The Angel of Corbridge
Finale Shoes and Accessories
Katie Kerr Shop
Norma James of Corbridge
Croft and Graves Optometrists
Reflections HAIR and Beauty
Shorts of Corbridge
Vintage at the Tower
Jack Robinson and Son Printers
Saunders & Pughe
…and all the Corbridge retailers who provided raffle prizes (full list to follow)
This picture shows our hardworking Trustee Angela Jones and Trustee of the Corbridge Youth-Initiative Rosemary Rayfield. These ladies have worked so hard to ensure that yesterday’s events went with a swing.
Here are more glimpses of the fun…with more images (plus even more to be added) in a photo gallery created by Ian Wylie (thank you Ian!) at: https://www.flickr.com/ph…/ianwylie/albums/72157666939880908
Thank you to everyone who shared our post about the vacancies in April – July in our Community Respite Care Bed.
We are now booked up until the end of July, and have vacancies from 1st August 2018 onwards. If you know of any family who would benefit from our facility, we’d be so grateful if you could please forward on our details.
Due to cancellations, we often have respite care available at short notice. If you are considering a care break PLEASE call our Deputy Manager Iwona on the numbers below, and she will do her best to help.
The Community Respite Care Bed is applicable to all people over 65 years of age in Tynedale who are:
– Aged 65 years of over (If younger our staff will seek CQC approval.)
– Those who need care at home & cannot be managed easily without main carer.
– Those with long term conditions, &/or disabilities. e.g. chronic neurological illness – Parkinson Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, stroke, cancer COPD, diabetes etc
For more information, or to book a place please contact Iwona Proszowska, Deputy Manager on 01434 633999 or email Iwona.Proszowska@charlottestraker.org.uk
The photo below shows (from l-r) Marilyn Hunter, our Deputy Manager, Berenice Groves our Chair of Trustees and Iwona Proszowska, our Deputy Manager.
Some great news – we are currently converting our last flat to provide two brand new, fully equipped rooms for residents in Charlotte Straker House.
The two new rooms are currently being refitted and refurbished by our team of builders. They should be ready for our new guests in the next few weeks.
Each room will be equipped with high quality bedroom furniture, state of the art nursing equipment and a fully refurbished en-suite bathroom.
We will be posting regular progress photos on the building works – please check back to see how we are getting on!
Our latest progress pictures (as of 18th April 2018)
Berenice Groves, Chair of the Board of Trustees, said: “We have agreed that the respite bed should become a mainstream facility within the Charlotte Straker Project.
This year is our charity’s Centenary year and I am elated that after 100 years’ the Charlotte Straker Project is still providing a quality, essential service to residents in our area.”
Iwona Proszowska, Deputy Manager of Charlotte Straker House added
“In 2017, we helped 27 Northumberland families, by providing free of charge respite care to their loved ones.
In my experience of speaking directly to carers, there is very little respite provision available in our area, and it is often expensive or booked up weeks in advance.
Due to cancellations, our bed is often available at short notice, so if anyone is considering respite care in the near future, please give me a call, and I will do my best to help.”
The respite care bed has vacancies in April and May, plus various dates in July, August and September, and from October onwards. These dates can be found on our website on www.charlottestraker.org.uk/who-do-we-help/respite-care/ and by ringing Iwona Proszowska on 01434 633999.