Friday 1st July 2016
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Summer 2016
Volunteer Coordinator Paula Moncrieff, pictured right, reports on the success of this local support service.
Helping Matters was set up as a volunteer-led service in 2014. Since the service began, Macmillan volunteers have made over 600 individual visits – the equivalent of more than 2,000 hours of volunteer support – to people affected by cancer across Scotland.
The service aims to provide practical and emotional support to people affected by cancer, in their own homes, for a short-term period. Support can include light housework or gardening, shopping, lifts to appointments, preparing a meal, befriending and companionship, and signposting to other relevant support services.
All volunteers undergo PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups) checks and extensive training. They come to Macmillan from a wide variety of backgrounds, but the one thing they have in common is the kindness, compassion and commitment required to carry out such a fulfilling role.
Jenny Howse (pictured right), one of our support volunteers, was recruited last January. Jenny had more than 20 years of experience as a social worker. She also wanted to give back to Macmillan, following support given to her mother. These factors combined made her a positive and committed volunteer.
In June 2015, Jenny was chosen to support a young woman who had spent the previous year undergoing extremely aggressive treatment for a very rare cancer. To make matters more challenging, she was the single parent of a five-year-old boy and her immediate family lived abroad. She was feeling isolated when she was referred to the service. She was also facing numerous financial challenges, including the fact that due to the surgery she required, she could no longer return to her old job.
Every Monday for 12 weeks, Jenny collected the young woman from hospital after her immunotherapy sessions, took her home and made her something to eat, making sure she was comfortable. Jenny was a listening ear. Her calm but reassuring manner had a huge impact on the woman and her ability to get through her treatment.
Jenny helped her get the correct financial advice from the Macmillan Money Matters team in Edinburgh, and even helped her move house. Jenny says: ‘It has been a privilege to be a part of someone’s life even if it is for a short period. To witness the courage and dignity people show in the face of adversity is really enriching.’ It is often helping with the small, simple tasks that can make all the difference.
Helping Matters is currently available in Edinburgh, West Lothian, Glasgow and South Lanarkshire. Email Anna Nugent, Direct Volunteering Services Manager in Scotland.