A new year message from Chris Parker, Director of Volunteering

Published: 22 January 2024

Chris Parker, our Director of Volunteering, shares his thoughts on how Macmillan volunteers can continue to transform the lives of people living with cancer in 2024.

Hello and Happy New Year to all of you! 

2023 was an amazing year of volunteering at Macmillan Cancer Support and I continue to be inspired and humbled by the generosity of time and talents given to supporting people living with cancer and Macmillan. So, as I step into the role of Director of Volunteering at Macmillan, I do so with an absolute sense of responsibility, because I'm just so aware of the incredible contribution you all make every single day. 

I’ve been privileged to live out my vocation at Macmillan for almost 8 years, and my passion for volunteering and community only grows. My reflections on 18 years in the charity sector, working in the fields of humanitarian relief, community engagement and volunteering, are that we are entering a new era in society. This raises questions about how charities need to change in response. Some of us refer to this ‘new era’ as a post-pandemic world. Others refer to the causes of the economic challenges we are all living through. Some may point towards the 4th Industrial Revolution and advances in technology colliding with our everyday lives. 

And yet, amidst all this change, is a constant. The kindness of people giving their time generously in support of others. Thank you for living out a quote I come back to regularly: 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”- Margaret Mead, Anthropologist. 

Many of you will be aware that Macmillan is asking itself some big questions about how it needs to adapt and evolve as a charity and I’ve been so proud of all the support Macmillan volunteers have given in helping shape Macmillan's future through our Transforming Macmillan Together programme, which some of you may know as 'Open Strategy'.  

Your views and insights are more important to us than ever before because we are facing some big challenges in society. For example, we know that we will go from 3 million people living with cancer now to 4 million people living with cancer by 2030. Whilst this is partly a good news story about improved diagnosis and treatment, and whilst some people might be living longer, they won’t necessarily be living better. We know the inequality gap is widening. We know there are challenges facing the NHS, with the longest waiting times on record. Quite simply, the needs of people living with cancer are growing. Macmillan is being bold and brave in thinking about how we adapt as a charity to ensure we continue to have a huge impact in addressing these challenges in our society. 

And so today I want to encourage you to continue to help us in addressing these challenges. 

There will be further opportunities to feed into the Transforming Macmillan Together work over the course of the year and we'll be reaching out to you in due course to explain how you can continue to have a meaningful voice in shaping Macmillan's future. You can find out the latest updates on Transforming Macmillan Together

Through this time, my promise to you is to keep you connected to the changes that are happening at Macmillan. I'm really excited about our future and all that Macmillan is striving to be for people living with cancer, and I want to bring you on that journey with us, together. 

As well as looking towards the future, there is also so much exciting work happening in the present. So, at the start of this New Year, I’d also like to encourage you to look at all the different ways you can get involved. Our full calendar of volunteer events is available on our website and we have also started a new series of webinars to help showcase all the different ways you can get involved at Macmillan, whether you are an existing volunteer or new to the cause. 

Thank you once again for all you are doing for Macmillan and for people living with cancer. I look forward to meeting many of you over the course of this year and, until then, take care and thank you.

Chris Parker, Director of Volunteering