Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer


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Dorset Advocacy and Help and Care

The Advocacy on the Ward Dorset pilot is a partnership between Dorset Advocacy and Help and Care; it aims to offer a new form of help to older people who have cancer by recruiting and training volunteer advocate who have themselves been affected by cancer in some way.  The project is staffed for Dorset Advocacy by Chris Harker,  Volunteer Lead and Jeanette Croft, Volunteer Coordinator; for Help and Care Jackie Liversidge is the Advocacy Manager and Kathleen Gillett the Volunteer Co-coordinator. Over the past 4 months we have developed partnerships with Age UK, MacMillan, Careers Associations, Medical professionals, Oncology staff at the three acute hospitals and Social Services. We also aim to be fully inclusive and recognise that cancer affects everyone differently. This project targets a group of people that have never been offered advocacy before. We are therefore aiming to make a real difference to individuals struggling with the effects of cancer on their lives. We will support people to find the information they need to make decisions about their treatment and speak out and get their views heard on decisions relating to treatment and care. Referrals are easily made by contacting either 0300 1113303 or 0845 389 1762, we will talk to individuals in order to help them and us understand their advocacy needs and find the right help as soon as possible. We will do this through  trained volunteers who themselves have had their lives touched by cancer either through being a carer, patient or professional. We know across Dorset there are lots of people who have had to deal with cancer alone and feel they want to support others through a difficult pathway. We have reached people through many different ways and we continue to explore how we can ensure anyone who wants to volunteer knows about the project and gets the opportunity to support others.

In order to recruit volunteers, we have used adverts in local papers, Parish and Community magazines, and with groups including the volunteer bureaux,  and other voluntary sector groups and clubs. All of our volunteers are committed to the training on offer and as I write this today they are attending End of Life training. We ensure our training is a two way approach as most of our volunteers have personal skills and knowledge they bring to training, we provide information and specific skills training needed to carry out their role. This includes the Macmillan online Cancer Awareness course, Safeguarding, general principles of advocacy, Lone working and person safety to give a few.

Each person eligible for help under our pilot will be offered supported from a carefully matched volunteer advocate.  Advocacy will help people understand the choices available to them, express their views, ask for what is needed and what they want, obtain services they are entitled to and stand up for their interests and entitlements. Access to the service can be obtained easily either by calling 0300 1113303 or 0845 389 1762, the Macmillan Support Line on 0207 0912240 or by referral from a healthcare professional.

Project Lead – Michael Pochin

Michael Pochin has been with Dorset Advocacy for nearly 20 years.  During that time he has been a co-ordinator of volunteer advocates, and Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA), and an advocacy manager.  He has devised and delivered advocacy training, including part of the initial Department of Health IMCA training in 2007.  He is a co-author of ‘A Right Result? Advocacy, Justice and Empowerment’ (2001) and is currently Dorset Advocacy’s Development Manager.


Author: kathparson

Chief Executive of Older People's Advocacy Alliance (UK)

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