Friday 15th April 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Spring 2016
As part of the Macmillan Alumni programme, former Macmillan postholders are mentoring those who are new in post.
This pilot project was set up after feedback from former Macmillan postholders, who told us they would like to use their skills and expertise to support professionals working in challenging environments. Macmillan professionals have also told us they would value the guidance, advice and support that an experienced mentor could offer them.
The scheme is open to Macmillan professionals who are starting a new role or going through times of transition in their working lives. They are put in contact with a member of the Macmillan Alumni. The pair make contact before the mentoring relationship formally begins, to ensure good ‘chemistry’ and for both to ask each other questions. The programme is flexible and meetings are negotiated between mentor and mentee.
Mac Voice spoke with the first two participants in the scheme. Jan Morrison is retired and was previously Macmillan Lead Cancer Nurse at Kingston Hospital in Surrey. She has been a mentor for Jenny Watmore-Eve, who is the Macmillan Programme Manager for Cancer Patient Experience at Queens Hospital in Romford, but also works at King George Hospital in Goodmayes.
Before her Macmillan role, Jenny had worked for 15 years in palliative care in hospices. She told us that when she started work in the NHS, she felt quite isolated by the unfamiliar environment. Finding a mentor whohad experience of cancer care in a big hospital was ‘just perfect’. As a mentor, Jan has been able to impart knowledge about how NHS systems work. She has also used her many years of management experience to support Jenny as a manager.
Jan: ‘We agreed to meet face to face at first, so we could get to know each other. We met at Queens Hospital so I could get a sense of where Jenny works. You can do mentorship by phone but, based on that first conversation, we decided to continue meeting in person.’
Jenny: ‘Jan spent time telling me about herself: her background, what she had done professionally and what she does now. I did the same and it just felt right. We felt like a good fit.’
Jan: ‘We continued to meet every six weeks for one hour. We’ve had four sessions so far. It has sometimes been an issue finding a private space to talk, but we have now found a regular quiet place in an education area.’
Jenny: ‘At the end of each session, we agree on my plan and goals for the next six weeks. I update Jan on important progress by email.
‘It’s really helpful to have somebody who is not your manager or connected to the organisation in which you work, who is able to listen and help you reflect on what you're learning or struggling with in a structured way. I feel like there is someone who understands my hopes and concerns. She knows what I need support with and also what motivates me. She is able to suggest ways that I might get around any challenges.’
Jan: ‘We have two more sessions planned at the moment. We are already thinking about how we should close and how Jenny could get ongoing support.
‘Mentoring has definitely helped me feel connected to Macmillan. When I retired, I felt that I didn’t want to be too committed to anything. But becoming a mentor has meant I can do work at times that are convenient for me. It also means I can use my skills and experience to give back.
‘I would encourage other former professionals to get involved. Mentoring is about sharing your knowledge and experience and doesn’t require any formal training or previous experience. It makes you feel valued and it’s very rewarding.’
Jenny: ‘My manager and my team are very supportive of me having mentoring. I would definitely recommend it. It’s invaluable.’
If you’d like to become a mentor or feel you would benefit from having one, contact the Alumni team for more information.