Why we exist

Macmillan Cancer Support is here to do whatever it takes to support people living with cancer. Read an overview of what we do as a charity and why we exist.

The changing story of cancer

The number of people being diagnosed with cancer is rising and more people are surviving cancer than ever before. This means the nature of cancer care itself needs to adapt and evolve to meet the rapidly changing needs of people living with cancer.

But current cancer care provision is approaching a crisis point. Existing support services​ are struggling to cope, yet the number of people living with cancer continues to grow. We need to act now to prevent a crisis in cancer care.​ Here is an overview of what we are doing to make sure their needs are met.

We provide services

We work with partners to provide services for people living with cancer at every stage of their cancer experience. Our services include:

  • Expert cancer advice on our Macmillan Support Line, and in person at our Macmillan cancer centres at hospitals, hospices, libraries and other community locations.
  • Award-winning cancer booklets and website information - we produce independent, expert, up-to-date information for people affected by cancer. Our cancer information is based on the latest research and is reviewed every 2 to 3 years.
  • Trained health and social care professionals, including:
    • Macmillan allied health professionals
    • Macmillan GPs
    • Macmillan nurses
    • Macmillan support workers.
  • Spaces for people to find peer support
    • our Online Community
    • support via our social media channels
    • self-help and support groups.
  • Volunteer services
    • Buddying or befriending – providing emotional support or someone to talk to.
    • Helping with everyday tasks – like shopping, gardening, cleaning, or walking the dog.
    • Keeping someone company – accompanying or driving people to their appointments.
    • Work mentoring – supporting people to return to work after a cancer experience.
  • Macmillan Grants
    Macmillan Grants are one-off payments to help people on low incomes who need immediate support with costs caused by, or related to their cancer
  • Welfare benefits advice service
    Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advice Services across the UK help people affected by cancer access the benefits, tax credits, and grants they are entitled to. Find your nearest service.

Find out more

We raise money

We're 98% funded by voluntary donations, so fundraising is essential to make sure we can deliver the vital support people living with cancer need.

Here are some of the ways we fundraise:

  • Challenge events
    Our sporty fundraising events. This is when someone takes on a personal challenge such as a hiking, swimming or running to raise money for Macmillan.
  • Corporate partnerships
    When we work with other organisations to raise money, share skills and knowledge, offer volunteer opportunities or deliver a service. Find out more about our corporate partnerships.
  • Legacies
    When someone decides to leave us a gift in their will. This is our biggest source of income and we offer a free of charge will writing service.
  • National marketing
    Our mass-market events for everyone to get involved with. These include World's Biggest Coffee Morning, Go Sober, lottery and trying out our innovative new fundraising ideas.
  • Philanthropy
    Typically focused on high-value giving. This can be either through a single individual or a trust. In the past, generous philanthropists have donated money to our services or their time and networks to help increase our impact. Find out more.
  • Regional fundraising
    Includes a lot of the above, for example events or partnerships, but on a regional rather than national level.

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We influence decision makers

We run public campaigns, build partnerships, and talk to senior decision-makers in government about all cancer-related policies at UK-wide, national and local levels.

We influence cancer care through:

  • our campaigns - we encourage people to share our message and keep cancer at the top of the national agenda
  • using our cancer expertise and experience to produce policy and evidence reports to raise awareness and understanding
  • the media - our media teams build relationships with all kinds of media outlets, journalists and influencers to keep the public informed about the needs of people living with cancer
  • working with corporate partners to deliver support, drive change, increase awareness of our services, fundraise and promote our key messages.

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We research cancer care

It is vital that Macmillan understands the numbers, needs and experiences of people living with cancer, through up-to-date statistics from external organisations and our partnership projects.

We research into some of these key areas:

  • cancer population (who is affected by cancer)
  • cancer prevalence
  • cancer journey (what people's experience of cancer is like, from the point of diagnosis to finishing treatment)
  • types of needs that people living with cancer might have
  • how our support helps people and what support is missing for people with cancer.

We support the cancer workforce

We provide healthcare professionals with up-to-date resources, tools, information, and training courses to help them support people living with cancer.

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We help employers support staff

Macmillan at Work is our workplace training, guidance and resources offer to help managers and HR professionals feel confident and equipped to support employees affected by cancer.

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Our Strategy