Today we hear from Bob and Maddy Smith:
Back in May three volunteers from the Dorset Macmillan Advocacy service at Help and Care were fortunate to be able to attend the Macmillan Volunteer Conference in Hinkley, Leicestershire as volunteer Peer Cancer Advocates. We were really enthusiastic about this although a little apprehensive too. We arrived at the hotel and were immediately made welcome by the friendly hotel staff and the Macmillan welcome team.
After check-in we made our way around the exhibition area which had many stands showing different aspects of the Macmillan organisation and ideas to help us as volunteers. Did you know for instance that there are Macmillan trained Boots No7 beauty advisors who know how to help people with cancer best use their products and feel good about themselves?
Throughout the Friday and Saturday there were sessions in the main conference hall as well as workshops we could attend on topics including Networking, Communication, Getting Your Story into the Media and Managing Stress to name just a few.
There were very interesting speeches from Lynda Thomas (CEO, Macmillan), Joelle Leader (Volunteering Director) and several others.
There were so many interesting facts to learn for example in one year Macmillan:
- Supported 5.8M people affected by cancer
- 590,000 were supported by Macmillan nurses
- £260M was raised to fund Macmillan (£27.5M from coffee mornings alone)
Also we heard that
- Mobile services are provided for hard to reach areas
- Discussions are ongoing with government departments to better support those affected by cancer.
All new information to the both of us.
We managed to speak with both Lynda Thomas and Joelle Leader about Cancer Advocacy. Speaking to them opened up opportunities to raise our profile and present Cancer Advocacy to Macmillan Customer Service Centre staff and those who operate Macmillan mobile service buses in the South of England. We also spoke with many of the delegates to find out about them and tell them what we do. Many were interested including a GP (also a Macmillan volunteer) in Brighton who is now actively promoting Cancer Advocacy. So an excellent conference, lots of learning, networking and a lot of fun too. On the Friday evening there was a gala evening to celebrate what volunteers do with dancing to a live band afterwards.
A theme for the conference was:
BUILD on your existing skills and knowledge
LEARN from other Macmillan volunteers
SHARE your stories and experiences
We certainly did all these as well as recognising and celebrating the value that Macmillan volunteers give back to our communities. It was time very well spent and we would encourage others to apply to go along next year. We came away invigorated and excited with new ideas on how to better promote Cancer Advocacy and ready to help even more people affected by cancer.
Bob and Maddy Smith, Dorset Macmillan Advocacy
(N.B. Dorset Macmillan Advocacy is funded by Macmillan Cancer Support)