Thursday 03 Jun 2021
This Volunteer’s Week we wanted to shine the spotlight on the incredible contribution they make to support people with cancer, especially throughout this challenging last year.
Is a centre fundraiser in Dundee who began as a volunteer.
When I was in my early 20s, my Auntie Jackie was diagnosed with bowel cancer in Ireland. Our family never really talked about it.
I was keen to help others and after various stints with other cancer charities, I discovered Maggie’s. I volunteered to help with fundraising. I loved all the activities and it also opened up conversations with my own family about cancer.
I was over the moon when I was offered a job as part of the Dundee team.
Two years on, with a pandemic thrown in, I am now fully settled into my role as the centre fundraiser, and it is amazing that this year, one of my main objectives is working with all of our local volunteers. I have to say it is one of the best parts of my job.
I started to volunteer for Maggie's in 2006, four years before the centre actually opened. My husband had died from pancreatic cancer in 2004. That was devastating, but 18 months later I also got cancer of the tongue.
I have done many things at Maggie's over the years - meet and greet, gardening, helping with the library, giving talks. But as my background is in retail, most of my work is with the fundraising team. I understand the need to keep funds coming in and help in any way I can.
I set myself a personal goal to raise £1,000 every year. I have been making and selling face masks for the past 15 months.
I have given lots to Maggie's over the years, but Maggie's has given even more to me. And I have met, and worked, with so many wonderful people.
My main task is to ‘meet and greet’ visitors. I explain a bit about what we do and show them around before finding them a member of staff to talk to.
Most people are so grateful for the contact and support and it is always amazing to watch how Maggie’s - the building, the staff, the environment - can make such a difference to their lives, and offer a ray of hope at a time of deep darkness. People often think the centre must be a sad place, but it really isn’t.
I had never done anything like this before, but I absolutely love it. I always say I meet everyone from 1-100 and A-Z, and my life is much richer for it.
I am Chairman of Guernsey Friends of Maggie's, with a relatively small committee of only five members, endeavouring to raise awareness of Maggie's within the local community and to help raise funds for the new centre in Southampton.
I was originally approached by a former colleague to see if I might be interested in getting involved. But it was really a subsequent visit to Maggie's at Charing Cross Hospital in London which convinced me that I should give it a go. The experience was humbling and highly emotional....I was simply blown away.
It has been quite a challenge to get where we are today but just to be associated with Maggie's ethos is reward enough.
I have had two roles at Maggie’s. The first was a ‘meet and greet’ role welcoming anyone over the doorstep. A cup of tea and a ‘wee blether’ put patients at ease, especially on their first visit.
My second role was as a ‘jack of all trades’ whilst also doing some statistical work. I am sure the number of coins I have counted over my time would stretch to the moon and back.
After leaving school at 16 I always worked for the NHS. I worked in the breast unit for 20 years. Latterly I managed the administrative part of the service so I had met Maggie Keswick-Jencks and knew Laura Lee well. Maggie’s was an exciting new project and felt like the right fit for me just as I retired and was looking for something else to do. I was not shy around patients with cancer and as a middle-aged woman with some life experience I felt I had something to offer.
Maggie’s is such a happy place and working here has inspired me every day. That has been why I stayed so long, and have found it hard to retire from.
I began to volunteer following the death from cancer of my best friend of over 30 years. He told me how Maggie's had supported him and his wife.
This was not my first experience of cancer taking loved ones, nor was it the last. I realised that everybody knew somebody who has been diagnosed with cancer. I had time on my hands; using that time to support Maggie's gave me a purpose.
I love working in teams, especially positive teams who pull in the same direction. I find the Maggie's work challenging and varied, and having indulged in Kiltwalk Golf and a hilarious off-the-cuff Hallowe’en event, I know it can be a lot of fun too.
I am a social media volunteer.
I saw first-hand how Maggie’s supported someone close to me through the hardest time of her life.
I have really enjoyed it as I have been able to see the difference Maggie’s makes to so many people, raise awareness about all their important work, connect with people and build a new online community in Southampton and the surrounding areas.
My sister, Alison, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. She sadly died in 2020. As a family, we all benefited from visiting Maggie’s. It was Alison's ‘safe place’.
I know personally that the first time coming through the main door can be daunting, so the first person that greets you and makes you feel at ease is very important.
Making people a tea or coffee, served in a proper mug, unlike the hospital plastic ones, helps to separate Maggie’s from the hospital environment and makes it non-medical and welcoming.
Volunteering is my way of giving back and helping other people.
A couple of friends had received support from Maggie’s so I knew about the fantastic services they provide and when I heard they were looking for volunteers I arranged to meet with the centre head.
As a former nurse, I thought I might be able to dust off my listening skills. I soon discovered that some things never leave you.
I love greeting the people who come through the door, showing them our beautiful building, sharing a relaxing ‘cuppa’ and helping them to identify their needs, whether this is a chat with a cancer support specialist or just a quiet place to sit.
Read more about how you can get involved and volunteer at Maggie's.
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