I was motivated to volunteer with Macmillan after attending a workshop on rehabilitation for my own cancer, and was very impressed with the Macmillan nurse who was the facilitator. I found out about the need for volunteers for a new initiative at the Imperial Hospital Trust in London, and thought this was a project with enormous value.
Being involved as a lead volunteer with Macmillan has helped beyond belief, and given me a group of new friends interested in helping people with or affected by cancer. They vary in age and backgrounds but with that one aim of being there for people; we talk openly about cancer and its effects, and offer companionship. It is truly very rewarding.
I have a team of 10 volunteers, and the role covers a range of activities. We have a dedicated Volunteer Manager who is a Macmillan professional. Her constant support is excellent and just what is required. The project is well organised with about one lead volunteer to three or four volunteers, and the training is thorough and friendly.
When a person affected by cancer who would like a companion is referred to me by our Volunteer Manager, I arrange a meeting with that person at a convenient place, usually near one of the hospitals. Once I have enough information, I put them in touch with a volunteer companion I feel could be a ‘match’ for this person. I brief the volunteer and introduce them. If they both refer back to me within a couple of days the match is continued for three or six months. I visit occasionally during that time.
Each lead volunteer is given support by way of constant access to the manager, as well as any ongoing training that is identified as relevant. Learning more about cancer and the management of people is a key part of the support. Regular phone calls and meetings both with the manager and the volunteers who form 'your team' are all part of the feeling of all round support.
I find volunteering very rewarding, and it gives you a lot of self-belief. Volunteering forms a great part of my life bringing interest and challenge.