Feb 17 2012 by Tina Kemp, Lennox Herald (main ed)
THIRTY cancer patients in West Dunbartonshire have benefited from a new support service launched just seven months ago.
The volunteer programme offers practical and emotional support to sufferers of the disease.
Now more people are being encouraged to find out about the Macmillan Volunteers Service which is supported by West Dunbartonshire Community Health and Care Partnership (CHCP).
Through the scheme, which began last June, people with cancer, their family or carers are matched with a trained volunteer who is able to offer a wide range of emotional and practical support, during the day, in the evenings or at weekends.
One of those to benefit is Helen Alexander who uses the service for help with her finances, shopping, transport, and for emotional support
She said: “When you find out you have cancer, you’re in a little bubble and feel as if nobody understands what you are going through.
“The people from Macmillan bring you back into the real world – you can talk to them and not worry about getting upset, or about them judging you.
“They are fantastic and I could not have got through this without them. They are the reason I am as strong as I am.”
Ruth Sandison, a Macmillan volunteer, explained what made her offer her time to help. She said: “I had cancer a few years ago and received a lot of help from Macmillan, so when I heard about the service I thought it was a great chance to give something back.
“I’ve worked with two clients so far and we have visited the Sea Life Centre at Loch Lomond, gone shopping, and gone to the Maggie’s Centre in Glasgow. I have also taken supplies like bread and milk round, walked a client’s dog when she was getting ready to be admitted to hospital and been to visit her while she was an inpatient.
“Sometimes clients like to get things off their chest and have a good rant about everything that is going on, which they may feel unable to say to other people, so it’s good that they get that opportunity to share that kind of thing with me.”
Today (Wednesday) a Macmillan Volunteers Service information stall will be at the Clydebank shopping centre from 10am to 4pm offering information about the help that is available.
Councillor Ronnie McColl, convener of the West Dunbartonshire CHCP, said: “Since the launch of this service seven months ago, Macmillan volunteers have helped 30 local people but there is the capacity to help many more. There are so many ways they can be of assistance, whether it’s a friendly listening ear, help with filling in forms and dealing with correspondence or the chance for a carer to have a much-needed break.”
For more information on the support offered or to find out about becoming a volunteer, contact Allan Clark on 0141 951 6141.
The service works closely with the Macmillan Carers Service, which is also available free of charge to anyone who is affected by cancer living in West Dunbartonshire.
For more information, contact Catherine Barry on 01389 608128.