Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Meet Pamela, OPAAL’s newest recruit

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I am delighted to have joined the team at OPAAL to job share with Marie McWilliams.  With Marie’s support, I have spent the first few weeks making myself familiar with all the excellent development initiatives that have been taking place over recent months to support older people affected by cancer and with OPAAL’s wider work.  My role will mainly involve working with OPAAL’s Partnership Development Hub Members, with Cancer, Older People and Advocacy programme Research and Development Leads and finalisation of the draft Quality Standards in Advocacy to support older people affected by cancer.

After a long and rewarding career in education as a College Lecturer teaching Information Technology, I changed direction in 2002 when I spent 7 years with Connexions Lancashire supporting young people aged 13 to 25 years of age, through a collaborative and holistic approach, to address the barriers that prevented or hindered them from accessing education, employment and training.  Issues faced included physical and mental health conditions, learning difficulties, homelessness, family disputes and domestic violence, youth offending, teenage pregnancy, sexual health, substance misuse, debt and management of caring responsibilities.


In 2008 I took my first role in the voluntary sector and since then have worked with Age UK, Carers Trust Fylde Coast after which I took a role with a domiciliary care company.  I realized my heart is with the voluntary sector and returned to take a role with Central and West Lancashire Carers.  I have been extremely fortunate to enjoy such a varied career that has given me valuable experience of working with all age groups by delivering valuable services in partnership with a wide range of statutory, private sector, voluntary, community and faith groups.

Following some recent personal health issues and surgery earlier this year I decided to reduce my working hours.  When this opportunity with OPAAL became available I was very pleased as it fits well with the hours I wanted to work but also because OPAAL is an organisation I was already very much aware of since I was involved as a manager on a three year national pilot project supporting older people affected by mental capacity issues through volunteer advocates.  The three year project culminated in an independent report “Who I Am Makes A Difference”, prepared by Andy Bradley of Frameworks for Change.

My continuous development is something I have always been passionate about.  In addition to my teaching qualifications I hold a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Management Diploma and a Post Graduate Certificate in Voluntary and Third Sector Management.   I believe that my role as a trustee with Empowerment, a charity offering a range of advocacy services including support for adults and children experiencing domestic violence and dementia and learning difficulties friendship groups allows me not only to make my own contribution within my local area but also helps me to continue learning through my involvement.


Sharing skills and knowledge with charities that support local communities is such a rewarding experience.  In these times of continuing and extensive financial cut backs there are so many reasons why the involvement of individuals with strategic experience is invaluable in efforts to safeguard the future of charities and community organisations.  After all, none of us knows what the future holds or when we, or our loved ones, may be in the position of needing help to prevent an issue from escalating into a crisis or to prevent the feeling of having to cope alone.

Pamela Hill, OPAAL National Development Officer


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