Bianca on being a Telephone Buddy volunteer

Stories
Published: 25 January 2022
A lady smiling at the camera

Bianca is currently a Macmillan Telephone Buddy volunteer. She really enjoys the flexibility of the role and how its enabled her to explore other ways of communicating.

"I developed a great connection."

Bianca started as Buddy volunteer before the pandemic, before transitioning to providing support by telephone and video. This enabled her to keep supporting people living with cancer even when she was temporarily outside of the UK.

"thanks to technology, i was able to continue my volunteering."

“The first person I supported had recently had surgery for their cancer and had very little strength to do things around her home. I would help around the house doing things like cleaning, fixing things and whatever else she needed doing that week. Of course, we always had a cup of tea and a good chat too. Through me coming into her home each week to help and support her, we developed a strong bond.

“I started supporting this person before the pandemic and then when Covid stopped me from being able to go in to her home, we started weekly phone calls instead. As we already had a good understanding of each other, our calls were nice but we would have preferred to see each other so we then moved to video calls. Video calls allowed us to connect properly again, to understand the nuances of what we were talking about. For us it was nearly as good as seeing each other in person. During the pandemic I have also started supporting a second person living with cancer.

“I also developed a great connection. I have found that video calls are really good for people living with cancer, particularly during the pandemic, as they might not be seeing very many other people. You can communicate through more than just your words – gestures, actions, expressions all help to have a better conversation.

“Both people I was supporting were amazing, one of them also taught me sign language over the video call! Each week we would learn some new signs and it was a great way to have conversations that weren’t about cancer and for her to think about something else that is important to her. This example also highlights the importance of accessibility and inclusion and how that can be facilitated through video calls.

“During the pandemic I went back to Brazil to see my family for a few days and ended up being there for six months due to travel restrictions and lockdowns. Thanks to technology, the amazing connection I had with Macmillan, and the people I was supporting I was able to continue my volunteering and call them once a week from over 6,000 miles away!

"Volunteering is about becoming part of something bigger."

“I’ve supported two people living with cancer now and it has really helped me to keep connected to the Macmillan community that I am so lucky to belong to here in Newcastle. Both people I was supporting have recovered from cancer and we had very emotional calls when that was finally confirmed.

“As a volunteer, Macmillan has been an amazing charity to be part of. Right from registering, through the training and inductions, to supporting me now when I am taking a short break from volunteering. The support for volunteers is extremely well organised and you feel like you are part of a big volunteer family and really appreciated. Volunteering is about giving up your time and effort but it’s also about becoming part of something bigger.

“Being able to meet other volunteers and share our journeys and experiences, supporting each other and people living with cancer. We are always learning in our volunteer roles and Macmillan has the safety nets and support systems that allows us to do that. Macmillan is an organisation that is crystal clear on what volunteers do and how to support and acknowledge them. Small things like getting a handwritten thank you card from someone at Macmillan really shows how much the organisation values its volunteers. I’d whole-heartedly recommend becoming a Macmillan volunteer!”