Community First News & Updates

Happy New Year from Macmillan Cancer Connections

by | Jan 9, 2020 | Alex's Blog, News

Happy New Year to you all!

When it comes to Christmas and New Year I always find myself looking back over the year at what I have achieved. This year, I reflected on all the work and support that I have witnessed in 2019.

I thought about Salisbury’s Cancer drop-in.. Now known as Cancer Support Salisbury. They have now secured two small pots of funding and have just had confirmation from Waitrose that they have been successful for the token funding scheme that they hold. I visited just before Christmas and was pleased to see 25 people sitting and sharing, drinking coffee and supporting each other. I also met a new lady who wants to join their volunteer team to help the group to keep supporting people affected by cancer.

Image: Barbara- just volunteered to join CSS

In the next week, volunteers will be taking part in some training provided by Macmillan so that they can continue to feel confident in their skills as listeners and befrienders.

They are also in the process of registering with the Charity Commission so that they can make more applications for funding and are continuing to work with the hospital to offer a service that can support people that may need it when affected by cancer. Later in the year a small group of volunteers will also be going out to rural villages, where they will be using Community Organising Listening skills to hold a drop in sessions so that they can reach out to people unable to attend the Wednesday drop-in. 

I thought about my visit to Corsham Community Club where they had a great turnout at the Community room at Corsham Fire station. Karen and her volunteers have been able to welcome new members to the group; including one lady that was isolated where she lived as she didn’t know many people and wanted to try and meet new people. Karen picked her up from her home and brought her along to meet the rest of the gang at the meet up and I felt heartened to listen to her and to see her chatting with the other group members. It was great hearing from the group about the issues that many of them face around transport in their communities; especially for attending clubs etc..

It’s been inspiring working with Karen who would love to find funding for a mini-bus so that she can increase the number of people that she can bring along to the club. She is also linking in with Carer Support Wiltshire to find more people that may need support and is in the process of applying for funding from Macmillan and her local area board.

Image: Karen’s volunteers at CCC

Corsham was a hive of activity with the Corsham Connectors project rapidly evolving. It’s been wonderful to be involved with something that will link people up in Corsham to social and support services that are available for them there; whilst using a friendly approach that I feel is very reminiscent of Community Organising. Looking to bring on board a team of volunteers that are trained to listen and support people around Corsham that may be isolated; whilst connecting them up with all the services that are already there to support them. They too are in the process of completing a constitution and applying to be a charity. They have a dedicated team of volunteers in their steering group who are focusing energy into the running and structure of this. It has been a pleasure watching them grow and find support from other organisations.

Image: Caroline, Corsham Connections

Over in Lyneham Our Volunteer Community Organiser Stevie has been continuing to support people in her community. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the lunch clubs that she runs over at the Golf Club and listening to the people that attend. I thought about how wonderful it was to have a lunch club that has a young person attending and noted the energy that she brought to the group, and I was warmed to hear people talking about friendships they had made by attending and what a difference it makes to their week.

Working on a project like this has been a new challenge for me. Previously always part of a team it has been unfamiliar for me to work individually; but the more I have gone out the more people I have met and it has struck me how hard these individuals work in their communities; often with no funding and sometimes alone themselves. Regardless of this they are there. They show up. They strive for better for the people who live around them and they want to be a part of positive change.

So with the new year I am feeling a lot of hope…

Hope that the groups are successful in finding funding: so that the Salisbury group can get their building in the centre of town to grow the service, so that Corsham Community club can get their mini bus, so that Corsham Connectors can afford to DBS and offer safeguarding support to their volunteers..

I hope that the year brings possibility.

The possibility of these hard-working volunteers to have unbiased support and development and time dedicated to them so that they can explore ideas and solutions together

And finally opportunity.

I hope these people; and the people that they go out and listen to every day can have the opportunity to be listened to be people who may be able to influence all of these things.

If all  that came good then we would not only be in for a very exciting year; but would see communities feeling more empowered and less isolated.

Happy new Year everyone- Hope it’s a good one.

If you’d like to talk about your own project, feel you would like to volunteer or support a local project that can help people affected by cancer or other health issues why not come along to our Macmillan Cancer Connections event on Wednesday 15th January 2020.

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