An author made a special appearance at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice’s regular book club to discuss her debut novel ‘Popping in’ which details the pressures and fulfilments of being a full-time carer.

The charity’s book club, which launched last year as a new way to support parents and carers by encouraging them to take time for themselves, selected the novel as many families who visit the hospice face similar pressures in caring for children with incredibly complex needs.

Liz Syred’s ‘Popping In’ is a hard-hitting tale which chronicles the emotional ups and downs of caring for  others on a full-time basis. The author, who penned the novel based on a series of real-life stories she encountered through her work for Connecting Carers in Scotland, was delighted to share her experiences with the group.

She said: “It was such a pleasure to meet people of like mind and laugh, chat and share experiences knowing we understood where each other was coming from.

“I was made to feel very welcome and like I was part of the group – and I’d encourage anyone who may benefit to get in touch and join in.”

Parents and carers who took part in the session also found a great deal to identify with.

Anna Teasdale and her family have been supported by Bluebell Wood since her son Charlie was diagnosed with Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia and dementia when he was 17-years-old.

“The book was very close to our lives so I did find it a difficult read, but listening to Liz talk about it was so thought provoking and it makes you reflect on your own experiences,” said Anna.

“I used to love reading but since Charlie’s diagnosis I’ve just not had the head space for it. So Bluebell Wood’s book club forces me to stop, pick up a book and take that time for myself.

“Charlie’s deterioration means that I really can’t leave his side at all any more, so the book club and some of the other Bluebell Wood Family Support activities give me a purpose, and a reason to take that time for myself.”

Bluebell Wood’s book club is part of a holistic package of support offered to families that has been expanded in the pandemic to include a ‘virtual’ element.

The charity now offers a variety of virtual support groups as well as all the face-to-face services at the hospice and in people’s homes across the region.

Sherry Leigh, Family Support Coordinator, said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to Liz for taking the time to share her experiences with the families we support.

“It was a fascinating discussion and I know our group very much enjoyed hearing about experiences that often closely resembled their own.

“As well as reading some fantastic books, our book club is very much about encouraging parents and carers to grant themselves permission to take time away from the pressures of caring for a child with complex needs 24/7."

“Most book clubs take place in libraries or other public venues in normal times, which means that many of our families simply can’t attend them.

“By doing the club virtually, we can arrange it to suit the needs of our families and they can take part from the comfort of their own homes.”

Bluebell Wood is always on the lookout for people to get involved in their Family Support activities so if any authors would like to get involved, or anyone would be interested in sponsoring the group, please contact Sherry by emailing her at [email protected]