Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer

Having two jobs is interesting…

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Juanita Williams, volunteer coordinator at Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy (SCOPA) writes about her two-job existence:

As volunteer co-ordinator at Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy (SCOPA) I work here two days a week. The other three days are spent at Rights and Equality Sandwell as Project Co-ordinator for a Heritage Lottery Funded (HLF) oral history project called “Where’s our spake gone?”

Having two jobs is interesting. Remembering which keys, phone and ID badge to take out often gets confusing (especially at my age) but wearing two hats when networking at meetings has its benefits.  With this in mind I went along to talk to a Cancer Support Group run by one of our Local Cancer Champions Board (LCCB) members.  Although three of the women were interested in joining us as Advocacy volunteers; health, work and life in general got in the way and to date none of them have joined us – yet.



With my HLF hat on I went back to their group this week with one of the artists we have commissioned to work on the project. Mandy Ross is a poet and is creating work for our project based around Black Country dialect and food.  She read some poetry to the group and then asked them to reflect on their childhood and try to write down some of their memorable food stories.  This session normally lasts for an hour, on this occasion they stayed for almost two.

It was lovely to hear other people’s memories and the laughter resulting from their tales.  We have a saying in the Black Country that you can eat everything on the pig “but the squale” (his squeal!).  It would seem that this group remembered vividly the smell of tripe boiling in their grannies kitchens, eating raw rhubarb dipped in sugar, toasting pikelets (crumpets) by the open fire, popping peas out the pods and chobbling on Teddy Grays suck (sweets to you).

All in all, it was a great session and Terri Rutter, our LCCB member, thanked us for including them in the project and said what a breath of fresh air it was for the group, who for obvious reasons, are not always in the most cheerful of moods.  If you are interested in our project, go to www.ourspake.co.uk

Incidentally, if you listen to the Black Country nativity you will hear a member of Sandwell Advocacy staff and two of our volunteers! That’s what I call making the most of having two jobs!

As we say in the Black Country – Tarrabit!

Juanita Williams, SCOPA


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