3 July 2014
Volunteers and staff at the launch of Imperial Companions
Macmillan has funded a volunteer-led service in partnership with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to help overcome issues relating to isolation.
Imperial Companions is a befriending service for people affected by cancer and focuses on those who are isolated or have limited support networks. Trained companions link up with someone affected by cancer either as a one-off or more regularly for up to six months. They provide a listening ear and can signpost to other services where necessary.
Shamini Markandu is one of the Imperial Companions: 'I wanted to volunteer after my mum was diagnosed with cervical cancer and sadly passed away in 2007. It feels really good to be able to give something back and try to make facing cancer that bit easier for people going through it today. I have met so many different people and it feels a privilege to be able to support them. We offer patients and their families and friends a cup of tea or coffee and the opportunity to chat. A lot of the time, people don’t want to talk about cancer but other things. People are so appreciative of the time we spend with them.'
Suzi Howie is a Volunteering Services Manager at Macmillan. She said: 'We know that receiving a cancer diagnosis can turn your world upside down. You're not only concerned about your body and treatment but also about how it will affect your life. Our aim is to make sure no one faces cancer alone and these projects at Imperial will help guide people through a really difficult time.'
Macmillan's research has shown that more than one in five (22%) of people living with cancer in London - an estimated 44,000 - are suffering with loneliness as a result of their cancer.
Suzie added: 'Since we started Imperial Companions, Imperial’s Senior Gynaecology Oncology Nurse, Angela Hayward, recognised a need for more specialist support so we have recently started a bespoke buddying service in their Gynaecological Oncology Health & Wellness Clinic. Our fantastic team of volunteers are trained and ready to help. If you feel you would benefit please get in touch.'
You can contact Suzie Howie to request a Companion as part of the scheme on 07837 192209 or firstname.lastname@example.org You can also speak to a member of staff at the hospital and ask them to refer you.
Visit our volunteering village if you're interested in volunteering for Macmillan.