I was out and about a while back visiting some of our Centres. As well as catching up with the Centre staff I had a lovely time sitting at the kitchen tables of both the Edinburgh and Glasgow Centres (for those of you not familiar with Maggie’s centres each centre has a central table with a well stocked kitchen area where visitors can have a cup of tea and a chat) I ate far too many biscuits whilst chatting to the centre visitors but as ever met some really interesting people.
Several visitors in each centre spoke to me about how hard they had found it to make that initial visit, to know what to expect and what to do or say the first time they walk through the door of a centre – or even get to the door. Most people said that on their first visit they felt they had needed a "practical reason like attending an appointment, getting benefits advice or finding out about a specific treatment others said they had gone with someone who had been before .
One lovely lady told me that she had been visiting the centre for some time but it had taken a while before she chatted to anyone other than the staff – she just liked to come in and sit and read for the first few visits now she felt quite at home talking to anyone who was in the Centre when she came in but knew she could also still come and quietly read her book if she wanted to.
Another person said that it was hard to describe what the centre was like "because it is so individual – the space is yours to use in a way that helps you to cope with the way cancer has affected your life"
On my return to London I was thinking the same can be said of Maggie’s Online
You are free to use the space or centre in a way that works for you. You can join in as much or as little as you like, you can sit and quietly read, you can talk to others via our forums or privately using personal messages. There are cancer information and support specialists and a benefits advisor on hand to talk things through quietly with, or you can join one of our online support groups.
Unlike a physical centre you can’t be seen hovering by the online door – we can’t smile or wave you in. The first step is up to you - you need to walk in the door. Although some of the content (including this blog) is available to non members if you haven’t registered the centre staff and members can’t welcome or talk to you . The first step online is to let us know you are there – just say hello, let us know how cancer has affected you or someone you know and the centre staff and friendly online community can help you to work out the questions and maybe even some of the answers .
If you are reading this thinking you might want to visit one of the Centres – you could perhaps register and post a comment asking what your local centre is like, many of our community members use both the online and brick and mortar centres so will be able to tell you more about what to expect.
You may have already visited a Maggie’s Centre– why not let others know about your experiences – what did it feel like what was on offer? It may just help someone else to get over the doorstep and get the support they need.
And of course there is the online centre itself - my earlier blog entries " what’s on the online centre" and "Just ask" will let you know more about what to expect here or you could take that first step – register and say hello and let us welcome you ..............
Blog originally written by Robyn April 2011