Duchy Health Charity

Cornwall’s leading grant giving health charity for the promotion of health and wellbeing
and the prevention of sickness in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly

Founders of healthcare and wellbeing related initiatives
can apply for grants to help reach their objectives
An image of a woman in a bed hugging her knees in pain
Posted on 1 December 2023

Living with pain touches every part of a person's life

Which is why Duchy Health Charity have recently awarded £2,550 to Age UK to support the launch of a new Pain Cafe in St Keverne.

Pain can affect sleeping patterns, the ability to think clearly, self confidence, relationships, mental wellbeing and mood and can ultimately lead to social withdrawal, frustration and immobility due to fear of “overdoing it”. People may look to medication to help them, particularly opioids, and can then find themselves reliant on tablets and needing higher and higher doses as the medication fails to have the desired effect. It can lead to a vicious cycle and downward spiral and stop a person from concentrating on what they can do and enjoy; it can stop them living well, albeit with pain.

Of course there is also a cost to the NHS and the economy to consider. Repeat doctor’s appointments, the cost of prescriptions, the increased risk of admittance to hospital due to opioids and polypharmacy use all cost the NHS a huge amount of money annually. Days lost in sickness and inability to work only adds to the tax burden.

There is an understanding that there is a need to help people with persistent pain to self-manage their condition and to decrease their reliance on medications, however waits for the Pain Clinics are long. Four of the South Kerrier Social Prescribing Link Workers were trained in the Ten Footsteps: Live Well with Pain principles and the team wanted to set up a Pain Café to help people in the South Kerrier area but as with all things, funding was a major hurdle. We were so grateful to be awarded a grant from the Duchy Health Charity and the first of our monthly Pain Cafés was held in September. We are still in our infancy, having held only 3 sessions but the feedback has been really positive so far.

What is a Pain Cafe?

Pain Cafes are a place where people suffering with persistent pain can talk openly with others who truly understand and won’t judge. They can chat over a cuppa, share tips and ideas and make new friends, but importantly they can also learn strategies from the 10 Footsteps programme that can help make the pain a much smaller thing in their lives, making more room for enjoyment and living well. 

10 Footsteps cover topics such as sleep, the importance of movement, interactions between the brain and pain, pacing, communication and relaxation and mindfulness but in a very welcoming, informal, positive and interactive environment.

A picture of a Pain Cafe facilitator sat in a chair showing movement techniques to improve pain
A picture of a Pain Cafe facilitator sat in a chair showing movement techniques to improve pain

The grant from Duchy Health Charity has enabled the Age UK Pain Cafe at St Keverne to run facilitated sessions on mindfulness and distraction techniques.

The Pain Cafe opened in October 2023 with around a dozen regular attendees already, participants have also said they would like a chair yoga session and Tai Chi and these sessions will be starting up soon. 

All of these things can give people tools to help them to self manage their pain – skills not pills. 

Feedback from attendees has been extremely positive with comments like… 

“I’ve just realised that for the 30 minutes I was doing the (mindfulness) session, I wasn’t in pain”

“It’s nice to be able to talk to people that ‘get it’ and to feel I’m not alone”

“I’ve been using alcohol to help with the pain because tablets were useless but now I can use better ways”

If you have any questions or would like to go along to one of the Pain Cafe sessions, please email Anne Coulson, Age UK’s Social Prescribing Link Worker.







The photos show Toni Blay, Certified Yoga Therapist, leading a session on a variety of techniques to distract and calm the brain and a little bit of gentle movement.
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