Browser does not support script.
Skip to main content
To read the first part of Sharing good practice, please scroll to the end of this page and follow the link.
The Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre is part of the Information, Care and Support Service offered by Leeds Teaching Hospitals. It aims to complement the care that people affected by cancer receive in the hospital. With seven staff in post, the centre celebrated its 10th anniversary last year and offers a variety of support services and complementary therapies for patients and their families.
Macmillan Information Care and Support Manager Sadie Smith says the different experiences volunteers bring make a real difference to the centre’s service.
‘Our volunteers are on-hand at the centre to welcome patients, and provide cancer information and support. Volunteers also help to run some of the centre’s self-help and support groups and provide complementary therapies such as massage, reflexology, reiki and aromatherapy.
‘Some of the complementary therapy volunteers come from a local college offering postgraduate training. They are fully qualified, which is crucial, gaining experience and enhancing their skills. Others approach the centre wanting to offer help through their skills, and occasionally we recruit volunteers during open days at the centre. In total, 65 individuals support the work at the centre each week,’ Sadie says.
Christine is a receptionist at the centre on Monday afternoons. She likes the fact that her role makes a difference to people who use the centre by providing patients with a familiar and welcoming face during a time of confusion and stress.
Having volunteered at the centre for 10 years, she describes it as a lovely place to work. Christine says she feels appreciated and valued. ‘Patients may come in just looking for someone to talk to so it’s very rewarding if they go away feeling a bit better.’
As part of their development, the centre provides volunteers with training opportunities for their roles and the chance to train in other roles, such as hand and foot massage or scarf tying, to enhance the services within the centre and nearby oncology unit. Christine has also volunteered on the wards and since becoming a receptionist she has conquered her phobia of using the telephone – and has learned to use a computer.
‘Volunteers are fundamental to the service, providing emotional support and a listening ear to anyone affected by cancer. Without volunteers we couldn’t afford to run a drop-in on two days and one evening per week,’ she says.
‘We offer a drop-in service based in the library at the Bridge in Easterhouse, Glasgow. We are expanding into Dennistoun Library and have recently recruited six more volunteers, increasing our team to 18.’
Janice has found many other benefits from involving volunteers within the service. The volunteers offer a wide range of ages and experiences including several retired people with excellent interpersonal and organisational skills; a number of younger people from academic backgrounds; and several others in full-time employment.
The volunteers are available at different times increasing the service provision with a daytime and an evening service. Janice believes that the team of volunteers are so enthusiastic and committed because they each have a strong personal motivation for volunteering, as well as an emotional commitment to Macmillan.
As a result, they are very reliable and dedicated. Her top tip for success is to be clear on the commitment required.
Be clear about the role
Make sure the role description includes what they are expected to do and what they are not expected to do. This avoids any confusion once they are in the role.
Recognise your volunteers
We all like to be encouraged and recognised for our work and volunteers are no different. We have nominated our volunteers for Scottish Health Awards|, Community Champion Awards|, UK Honours|, and of course the Macmillan Volunteer Awards|.
Provide regular support for your volunteers through one-to-ones and ongoing training. For example, at the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service (CISS) in Glasgow, some of the volunteers are going through the COSCA Counselling Skills course|.
Allow enough time for recruitment and training
We get approached by many people wanting to volunteer with Macmillan|, but be sure that the right person is in the right role. Not all people we talk to are willing to provide support face-to-face.
Part one - Volunteers: adding value to services |
More from the latest edition of Mac Voice|
Macmillan Learn Zone|
Macmillan Online Community|
Writing an article for Mac Voice?
Download top tips|
Tel 020 7091 2219
If you have any questions about Macmillan we would love to hear from you| .
You can also follow us| on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or YouTube.
© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
what are these?|