Tuesday 24th June 2014
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Summer 2014
Sharon Clarke explores the concept of speed networking for cancer services and tells us about her first event in Northern Ireland.
It can feel impossible to keep up with every new service, community organisation or charity. With that in mind, I wanted to find an innovative way of getting all of these services under one roof to network with healthcare professionals in the Southern Health and Social Trust area.
I attended an older people’s event in our trust area that used speed networking, and was so impressed with the concept that I was confident it would work well for cancer services. I wanted to target community staff to start with, so I planned an event to take place over lunchtime.
I shared my ideas with our Macmillan Development Manager who also shared my enthusiasm for the event. I started planning three months in advance, securing a good location with plenty of space for people to mingle and for exhibitors to showcase their services on information stands.
I invited local and regional cancer charities, Macmillan professionals and voluntary organisations, targeting anyone who may help people on their cancer journey.
The first event
The two-hour session was held in May 2013 in Lurgan, Northern Ireland. There were 29 exhibitors and 20 speakers. The room was set up in a market stall format with information tables around the perimeter and tables of 10 in the centre to allow people to network and share information.
The event was opened by Angela McVeigh, Director of Older People and Primary Care Services in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust
, who spoke about the importance of information sharing and networking with colleagues. After the opening address, the networking got underway.
Each speaker was allocated a strict time limit of three minutes and one slide to deliver their pitch. Presenters were given a friendly reminder if they ran over their time slot. I also invited our Cancer Service User and Carer Group to the event. One of the members kindly shared their cancer story and explained how the group contributed to the shaping of cancer services.
Post event feedback
Feedback from participants was extremely positive. Comments included:
- ‘Fantastic, well organised event ... I look forward to attending more of this type of event in the future.’
- ‘The three-minute presentations were informative and interesting. All were backed up with contact details and information leaflets.’
- ‘The inclusion of two service users was a masterstroke – their messages hit home as they were very real experiences.’
Such was the success of the event that I was invited by the Southern Trust’s Head of Cancer Services, Fiona Reddicks, to facilitate another two events for acute staff in two hospitals. The concept of speed networking for cancer services is being rolled out by Macmillan colleagues across Northern Ireland with great success.
Email Sharon Clarke
, Macmillan Cancer Information Project Manager, Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland.