Monday 10th September 2012
Helen Tuvey, Lead Mobile Information and Support Specialist, on the impact of a mobile cancer information centre.
In the three years since Beryl - one of Macmillan’s mobile cancer information centres - began touring, its information specialists have helped over 30,000 people from all walks of life.
The mobile, which tours Northern England, has visited a variety of different communities and settings - from workplaces to mosques and city centres to small market towns.
The impact of the service is evident, from the woman who saw the bus pass her by and decided to offer her time as a volunteer, to the man from France who visited the team on his holiday and made the effort to get back in touch to say how much he appreciated their support. He felt much more confident and empowered when asking his consultant questions about his treatment.
The Northern England service was introduced in 2008 to provide high-quality information to the public and to effectively target hard to reach communities. These include men, black and minority ethnic groups, older people, and adults with learning difficulties.
The service addresses some of the barriers communities face when accessing cancer services by taking free information resources and the knowledge of our information specialists into the heart of these communities. The mobile also raises awareness of Macmillan’s services and campaigns.
The appeal of the service is that it’s convenient and anonymous. Any member of the public can walk in and ask questions in the knowledge that it will be confidential and that it can just be a single encounter.
The mobile has a small room where information specialists can offer a more private consultation for emotional support or when discussing more personal issues.
To be able to provide such a service requires a great deal of work behind the scenes. The team coordinator works with cancer networks across the region to identify information gaps and communities where the mobile will have the greatest impact. Another crucial member of the team is the driver. He gets the bus in position, sets up the external information displays and is responsible for the health and safety of everyone in the centre.
The specialists on board never know what enquiry is going to come through the door, but are skilled in supporting visitors and are able to signpost them to local support once the mobile has moved on.
The Northern England service has proved to be so successful as a means of giving information and support that Macmillan has since introduced two new mobiles – one in the East Midlands and one in Central South West of England. Together with the London, Anglia and South East mobile team, the four mobiles cover the whole of England.
The team includes Helen Tuvey, Michael Lockey, Cara Law, Debbie Smith, Isabel Smith, Chantal Lowson and Geoff Greig.
Find out when a Macmillan mobile cancer information centre is in your area
Email Helen Tuvey, Macmillan Lead Mobile Information and Support Specialist Macmillan Cancer Support