Dialling to make a difference

Brought to you by Volunteer News

Macmillan is striving to deliver emotional support to anyone with cancer who needs it no matter where they are. One great example of this is the new telephone buddy pilot scheme that we’ve developed in conjunction with our corporate partner, npower.

Launched back in March, the new telephone buddy scheme was designed to ensure that people living with cancer can access emotional support regardless of their location. It’s a brilliant example of how Macmillan is striving to reach people in remote communities – and how our partners are helping us to do this. The pilot involves 14 corporate volunteers (employees from our corporate partners who give their time to Macmillan) who have been trained by Macmillan to become telephone buddies. The buddies from npower’s Durham call centre spend an hour a week on the phone to people affected by cancer who have requested emotional support.


Hear from Robbie - a corporate volunteer from Travis Perkins

Hear from Robbie - a corporate volunteer from Travis Perkins

Providing a lifeline

Nicola (pictured), a Process Improvement Manager at npower, was motivated to volunteer after supporting her father and her brother through their cancer experiences. 

‘It’s heartbreaking for me to think about anyone having to go through what my dad and brother have gone through alone,’ she says. 

‘I call the same lady once a week. She is housebound, so apart from the volunteers who go round to help her on a weekly basis, she doesn’t get to talk to anyone and she’s very lonely.

When she first answers the phone she always sounds a bit low, but by the end of the call I can hear from the tone of her voice that’s she’s happy. Sometimes she pours her heart out to me, and other times we talk about everyday things like the weather. It’s all about providing some company, and one hour a week really can make a huge difference to someone’s life.’ Barbara, the service user who Nicola supports, says that having a telephone buddy makes the world of difference. 

‘I look forward to the call each week,’ she says. ‘I love having a chin wag – I talk the ears off my buddy! When you live on your own you get lonely, so having someone to share your biggest fears with is great.’

Powering change

The telephone buddy pilot is just the latest scheme to emerge from this innovative partnership that’s making a real difference to the lives of people with cancer. npower already supports Macmillan’s Energy Advice Team, who can offer guidance and help source funding for people with cancer who might be struggling to pay their energy bills. The team can also cap energy bills and write off debt for their customers through npower’s Macmillan Fund. 

With npower’s help, we’re able to give out around 46 Macmillan Grants a day for fuel, worth an average of £200 each. In fact, npower has contributed £10.5 million to support people living with cancer since our partnership started 13 years ago. In January, we’ll be launching a new advertising campaign together to raise awareness of our energy support services, so make sure you look out for it. 

By working together, not only are Macmillan and npower helping to keep people warm without the worry, but we’re also improving access to emotional support. If Nicola’s story has inspired you, then there are lots of similar volunteer opportunities available, so why not look for one today?

A powerful partnership

View our infographic for more information about how npower has been working with Macmillan to help people affected by cancer.

Click to view/enlarge