Extending our reach

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Our Direct Volunteering Services provide emotional and practical support for people affected by cancer. They’re vital in helping us support hard-to-reach communities, such as Gypsies and Travellers in the North of England. Would you like to know more about volunteering opportunities in your community?

Led by volunteers

Our Direct Volunteering Service - run for and by people in Gypsy and Traveller communities - is a fantastic example of just how much of a difference volunteering can make. While these communities have traditionally accessed less support than most, a long-term commitment by Macmillan to work with volunteers within these communities is now delivering results. This is because the telephone-based emotional support service has been sensitive to the needs of the communities. A good example of this is that they’ve named the service 'The Cover' because it's a term Gypsies and Travellers use for cancer.

Jane, Volunteering Services Manager, highlights the importance of the service: 'It's a way of extending Macmillan’s reach. We know that 4 out of 10 people go through cancer without telling anyone, which is why this specially tailored phone-based support is so useful. It allows these communities to access support while being safe in the knowledge that their calls are confidential.'

For and by communities

The key to overturning these problems was to get the help of volunteers within these communities. 

Jane says: 'I was able to go to Gypsies and Travellers, and say you know what’s needed in your community, you tell us what you think will work for your community, and we'll help you deliver it. 

'Getting support from your own community, from people you trust, helps people to be more open about the signs and symptoms of cancer and to talk through the range of help available. 

'It’s about people in these communities knowing they can have a friendly ear in confidence, from people who understand. The service acts as a gateway into other Macmillan support and shows that we're here for everyone affected by cancer.' 

This is a great example of how volunteers can help us reach out to all communities to help ensure no one faces cancer alone.