Older People Living with Cancer

Peer advocates supporting older people affected by cancer


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The other “C” word

Juanita Williams of Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy (SCOPA) project is thinking “Christmas”:

I have to admit I am a massive fan of the Christmas period. For me it’s all about friends and family and getting together having fun. Having said that I am not averse to giving and receiving presents particularly if they are given with love.

Imagine how delighted I was to hear from one our Local Cancer Champions Board members, Paul Litchfield, last week to tell me about some Christmas hampers that were being distributed by Macmillan Cancer Support from one of their partners Poundland.

The Partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and Poundland started in May 2009 originally for one year only. Following the success of Year one where the £100k target was smashed to raise £180k and following a staff vote, the partnership continued into Year two. Each year (sometime between January and March) Macmillan go through the staff vote process and have won this each time. It was then recommended that Poundland remain supporting Macmillan until they had achieved £1 million. This was reached in March 2014 and it was then decided that the partnership would continue.

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They are now into the eighth year (9th by May 2017) and are on a drive to crack £3 million by the end of 2016. Macmillan Cancer Support recently received a huge donation from the sales of carrier bags (£672k). Poundland Staff have also taken part in numerous fundraising events including London Marathon, National 3 Peaks, Land’s End to John O’Groats, Dragon Boat races and a couple are hoping to do Mount Kilimanjaro in 2017. Poundland suppliers are always keen to support (especially with Christmas hampers) and with sales promotions around World’s Biggest Coffee Morning time in September.

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Paul was contacted by Lesia at Macmillan as she had a number of Christmas hampers to donate to his patients at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.  Paul is a valued member of our Local Cancer Champions Board and knows very well the amazing work our volunteers do with their partners here at Sandwell Advocacy on the Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy project so when he realised he would have a number of surplus hampers he asked if it would be possible for us to distribute the remaining hampers to Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy partners.

After a few phone calls, Lesia confirmed it would be appropriate for us to share the hampers and we made arrangements to go over and collect them.  We have a new volunteer David, who to date has not been matched with anyone.  He is chomping at the bit to get started and was really happy to help with the collection and delivery of hampers.

Juanita

Juanita

Imagine the delight when our volunteers delivered the hampers to their partners.  They were full of all kinds of items from tea towels to Santa hats, chocolate bars to chewy sweets and crisps to candles. One of our partners is nursing her husband back to health as he has recently lost over a stone in weight.  She commented that the tins of soups and chocolates would certainly go some way to fattening him up for Christmas!

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It’s fair to say there were a few tears of joy shed in Sandwell! The Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy team would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a merry Christmas and thank all of the staff and customers at Poundland for their kindness and generosity to people who are affected by cancer. Let’s hope they break the £3m target and continue this amazing show of generosity.

Juanita Williams, Volunteer coordinator.


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The Relate Macmillan Counselling Service is now available in the West Midlands

Macmillan Cancer Support has formed a partnership with Relate West Midlands to offer free relationship counselling to anyone affected by cancer. It’s a regional project for the West Midlands and is open to residents of Birmingham, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall and South Staffordshire for 3 years (up to April 2019).  Here the coordinator tells us about the service:

I’m Eileen Clews and I’d like to introduce myself as the Coordinator of this new service. It’s a job I’m delighted to have because cancer can have a huge impact on families and friendships.

When we talk about relationships, it’s not just about your other half. It can also be about brothers, sisters, mums, dads, and carers. The people around us make a huge difference to how happy we are, and strong relationships can help us get through life’s tough challenges, like cancer. 

Eileen Clews

Eileen Clews

Some of the people who come to see us are single and don’t have a lot of family, we work with them on strengthening the support they do have around them.  Others are partners or relatives who find an hour a week to talk to a counsellor about their concerns very helpful. The majority of those we see are patients or ex-patients as we are there to help whether the diagnosis was recent or some years ago.

When you come to see a counsellor the first appointment is always a consultation. This is to find out a bit about the issues and ensure we are the right people to be seeing you at this time.  After this there are 7 further sessions available.

At the moment we are offering appointments at Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Solihull Relate offices but if we get enough demand there is the possibility of using our sites in Dudley and Oldbury.  Unfortunately, we can’t come and see people in their own home but we can offer Telephone Counselling if people can’t get to us.

While many of the referrals to the Relate Macmillan Counselling Service have come through the NHS, you can also refer yourself.  To do that or simply find out more about what we offer contact me on 0121 643 1638 or by email macmillan@relatebirmingham.co.uk

Very soon after I was in post, Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy (SCOPA) came forward to tell me about what they do and recruit me onto their Steering Group! I am very happy to be part of this and am impressed with the work they are doing in Sandwell.  This is an area I have worked in before when I ran a project for The People’s Orchestra in West Brom (not a musical one, that would not have gone well). While the geographical area for this new counselling service covers most of the West Midlands, I am hoping that we will get some referrals from Sandwell and surrounding areas.

If you know of anyone who might benefit from some relationship counselling, who has been affected by cancer, please do tell them about the Relate Macmillan Counselling Service.

There are further details on our website

http://relatebirmingham.co.uk/our-services/the-relate-macmillan-counselling-service/


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World’s Biggest Coffee Morning ……. Again!

Juanita Williams, Volunteer Coordinator from Sandwell Advocacy’s Cancer, Older People and Advocacy (SCOPA) project paints a vivid picture of this year’s World’s Greatest Coffee Morning and what it means:

It’s September and to me that means one thing to me –  not the end of the summer, not the children and teachers going back to school – It’s the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. 

I have been hosting coffee mornings since 2006 as my way of thanking Macmillan Cancer Support for supporting our family on my dad’s cancer journey.  I have raised thousands of pounds for Macmillan over the last ten years but I have had so much back. Every time I do something for them, another opportunity seems to come my way which enriches my life.  I suppose that’s what happens for the volunteers here at SCOPA.  They came along to give something back and in return they get a sense of achievement knowing they have made a difference to someone’s life. It’s a really positive and rewarding cycle.

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I know I have written blogs about it before as have many other Cancer Older People and Advocacy projects but the events are always so different.  Firstly, every year we have a new Mayor.  This year we were joined by Cllr. Julie Webb.  She spent lots of time talking to local residents and volunteers about the work of SCOPA and Macmillan.  She is very aware of how cancer affects so many people in her ward, across the borough and the rest of the country. 

We also had a very special guest from Macmillan Cancer Support.  John Pearson is the Executive Director of Cancer Support Operations.  I met John for the first time back in 2014 when I was taking part in an “extreme” Macmillan Cancer Support cycling challenge over the Himalayas in India.  John and his wife were also cycling and camping on this really tough ride.  I think that’s what I really like about John – he works for Macmillan but he also raises thousands of pounds for the charity.  I’ve seen his Facebook pictures – he runs, cycles, sails, treks, hosts black tie events, serves water at marathon pit stops, gets up at ungodly hours to sell at car boots, barbeques, makes tea for little old ladies and sports a green afro wig with style when called for! And that’s in his spare time!

As a very active volunteer and fund raiser himself John totally gets what it is we are doing here in Sandwell on the Cancer Older Peoples Advocacy project.  It was for this reason I wanted to invite him to meet our volunteers and some of their partners who are being supported.  I wanted him to see what a huge difference SCOPA and Macmillan can make to an area like Sandwell.

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We opened the event at 10.00am.  It was an early start for myself and my friend Jenny who works at Sandwell Irish Community Association where we host the event.  Jenny does all the work over at the venue, making sure the room is booked, hiring materials to dress the room and sourcing prizes for the raffle.  I couldn’t do the event without her support.  The SCOPA staff team arrived next and set about making sure everything was ready for our guests to turn up.

 

Next to arrive was my mom, Cath.  Mom spends her leisure time crafting and always puts on a fabulous stall full of handmade gifts.  She has learned that it’s never too early to start selling Christmas items and this year’s creations included knitted handbags, felt flower brooches, Steam Punk boxes (you will have to Google that one as it’s too difficult for me to explain) and fairy houses.  The Mayor is always brought to the event by the Sergeant at Arms (chauffeurs to you and me). This year we were joined by Kennedy and he always informs the Mayor about the event prior to her arriving so she knows what to expect.

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Eventually all of our guests get to sit down and enjoy a nice cup of tea and a piece of cake.  We have so many talented supporters who bring along their cakes.  The cupcakes always look splendid stacked high on the cake stands but the Victoria sponges, chocolate sponges, lemon drizzle, rocky road slabs, banana loaves and coffee & walnut cakes are equally as delicious. This year we were treated to a magnificent chocolate cake covered in soft icing and Maltesers.  Apparently there were no calories in it at all (that’s what she said!) I can honestly say that the bakers of Sandwell never let us down. 

Sandwell council sent along one of the communications team to take photographs of the event. This year we were also joined by an apprentice who spent time photographing the cakes.  These all went onto Twitter, Facebook and to the local Express and Star newspaper.  We were a bit cheeky and we asked the photographer to take a few extra shots for us to use ourselves.  We plied him with cake and he didn’t refuse.

Throughout the morning the SCOPA volunteers, board members and staff were all on hand to make sure everything ran smoothly.  Some served refreshments, others washed up and some were simply there to listen – that’s what we do – and we do it well.  This year we were joined again by some of our partners, its lovely for all of us to meet with them face to face as often we only get to chat on the telephone. It’s always good to put a face to a name and a voice.

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We drew the raffle and you could hear a pin drop as people waited anxiously to hear if their number was being called.  The gifts had been generously donated to us and included orchid flowers, chocolates, champagne, toiletries and much more. In total we raised over £380.00 and this has been paid in and is on my Justgiving page.

Here at SCOPA we have built very successful relationships with our Macmillan colleagues, both on the wards and out in the community.  Their involvement is key to the promotion of our service and we really appreciate their help, likewise they value what we can do for them.  When we host a coffee morning we are able to promote the SCOPA project and get the word out to both professionals and the local community. I work with wonderful people who are all striving to make these journeys a little easier.  I can’t think of a better way to network and reach out to people – but that’s because I simply love a cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake! What a great job our SCOPA team are doing.

Juanita Williams, SCOPA


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“I wanted to be more than “Nanny” in my retirement”

In today’s post Sherry, a peer volunteer advocate with Sandwell Advocacy’s Sandwell Cancer Older People Advocacy (SCOPA) project, tells us her volunteering story:

My name is Sherry and I have been a volunteer at Sandwell Advocacy since March 2015.  I was a staff nurse for over 45 years and when I retired in 2014 I was adamant I was going to do something productive with my time.  I have grandchildren who I adore but having had a very demanding career I wanted to be more than “Nanny” in my retirement.  I trained in Chester then worked in plastic surgery, something I thoroughly enjoyed. My final working years were spent as an ophthalmic nurse in Sandwell. Shortly before I retired I was diagnosed with breast cancer, this was a shock to me as I had always attended screening and knew exactly what to look for.  I received radiotherapy and chemotherapy and continued to work throughout. I am still under surveillance and attend yearly mammograms but “Once a nurse, always a nurse” I continue to stay busy.

I met Paddy and Juanita at a Cancer wellbeing fayre hosted by the Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals and they told me about the exciting new project they were working on, supporting people over the age of fifty who are affected by cancer – a perfect opportunity for me to put my skills and experience to good use.  I took part in the training and was soon partnered with a woman who had agreed to advocacy as she had some housing issues. My own experience helped me enormously as I had a good idea of what my partner was going through emotionally and I soon developed an extensive knowledge of housing policy.  Although the partnership has ended I feel I have made a very positive contribution to my partner’s journey and she knows she can come back to SCOPA if she feels she needs our help again.  With the knowledge I gained I was recently able to support one of my elderly neighbours who needed to move out of his flat whilst major work was being carried out. I wouldn’t have known about such things prior to becoming an advocate. I have also been instrumental in getting a gas supply to the flats where I live in order that I (and other tenants) can manage our heating more suitably. Overnight storage heaters are not the best if you need to adjust the temperature frequently as a result of medication. They do say you learn something new every day.

Sherry

Sherry

Throughout my career I had experience of advocates and their role but it has been challenging and very rewarding to be on the other side of the relationship.  My knowledge of the NHS and hospital policies has helped me no end and I have enjoyed visiting hospitals with my partner who was not confident in this environment.  I was able to ask a lot of questions on her behalf to ensure she was fully able to make informed choices.

I now have a new partnership with a husband and wife, they also have housing issues although totally different.  I have enjoyed running around for them and making phone calls to assist them in downsizing to a more manageable property. They appreciate my matter of fact approach and particularly the fact that I have time, something they haven’t always got.

I haven’t limited my volunteering to advocacy practice, I have joined the Local Cancer Champion Board as I feel I have professional experience which will benefit the project. I have also ventured down to Vauxhall in London with Juanita, the volunteer coordinator, to attend a National Champions Board meeting at Macmillan HQ – that was a long and tiring day but I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with other champions and staff on the programme.  I have taken part in the national evaluation of the Cancer, Older People and Advocacy Programme  by BRAP and was also involved in Working Together for Change led by Helen Sanderson Associates which again drew on other aspects of my experience.

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I would recommend volunteering to anyone like me who wants to give something back.  Additionally for any retired professionals who want to do something similar to what they have done as a career, this is an ideal opportunity to be part of a valued and respected team.  If anyone out there is thinking about becoming a peer advocate I would recommend you talk to someone who is volunteering and find out first-hand what it’s like, I think you will get a positive response.

Sherry, Sandwell Cancer Older People & Advocacy


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Our volunteers visit the Queen Elizabeth Hospital

In today’s post our colleagues at Sandwell Cancer, Older People and Advocacy service tell us about their recent Local Cancer Champions Board visit:

At the start of 2016 we decided to liven up our Local Cancer Champions Board meeting and we invited our members to each make a pledge to the project.  This could have included showing the OPAAL films at staff meetings, talking to colleagues about Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy or writing a blog. Mr Paul Litchfield, the Cancer Information and Support Services Manager at The Patrick Room, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham invited us to bring our volunteers over to find out more about what’s on offer for cancer patients in Sandwell and Birmingham.SCOPA-logo 

Eight of us made our way over by car and taxi and were very pleasantly surprised to find the fortnightly Queen Elizabeth Hospital Farmers Market was in full swing!  What a delight for the eyes and feast for the belly!  The first thing we smelt was delicious curry goat, rice and peas, a Caribbean favourite. We can only imagine the happiness someone would get if their visitors were to bring that up onto the ward at visiting time.  There were delicious fresh fruit smoothies and juices, freshly baked breads and cakes, jams, chutneys and pickles, pies, pates, meats, cheeses, teas, veggie meals, cakes, wraps, snacks, deserts and both local and exotic fruits.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time or we certainly would have spent a good hour wandering around.

Apparently there are always fruit and vegetables available for visitors and patients but this was an additional and amazing array of organic and homemade delicacies.  Certainly just what the doctor ordered.  We take our hats off to the organisers of this great market and I am sure we will be back.

Once inside the Cancer Centre we were greeted by Paul Litchfield who was our host for the day.  He had arranged refreshments for us on arrival and took us up to one of the training rooms where he explained all about the new state of the art hospital and all the services run in and around. 

The latter part of the session was taken up with case studies and some of Paul’s personal stories about his work.  Having been in nursing for more years than he was willing to admit to he certainly kept us entertained and gave us all lots to think about in relation to how times have changed and what the future might hold.  He also gave us some startling statistics and facts about cancer and specifically the Midlands area which has an increasingly diverse community.

The volunteers who have themselves had cancer were familiar with the setting and said it brought back many memories.  Those who had not been before found it extremely interesting and useful.  Paul extended his support to everyone and offered to be of assistance should any of our advocacy partnerships require his help and knowledge. 

What a great day out with people who are really making a difference and a fantastic pledge of help from one of our very own champions Mr Paul Litchfield.

Further details about the Patrick Room, Cancer Information centre can be found on http://www.uhb.nhs.uk/patrick-room.htm

And details of the Farmers market (for all you foodies) can be found on www.uhb.nhs.uk/farmersmarket


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Sandwell’s Juanita Williams appears on Radio Raaj FM

As part of NCVO Volunteers week, Volunteer Co-ordinator Juanita Williams secured a spot on Sandwell’s local Asian radio station, Raaj 93.1fm.

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No stranger to Raaj FM, Juanita had been on the show previously to talk about her work in the local voluntary sector and also when she carried the Olympic Torch in 2012.

Juanita Williams

Juanita Williams

 

The Friday afternoon slot is reserved for Community Affairs which includes Health Awareness and the format is generally a question and answer session. The programme starts with news, weather and music followed by an introduction from the DJ Manny Khaira who welcomes his guests.

Manny Khaira of Raaj FM

Manny Khaira of Raaj FM

 

Juanita was able to talk about volunteering opportunities on the SCOPA project and this was translated into Punjabi for the listeners.  There was then more music before talking about the SCOPA project generally, again translated into Punjabi.

The result was that we had two phone calls in the following week asking about the service which was promising and both have been referred to the local authority Welfare Rights team for benefits checks.

Jodie McCaughan, Sandwell Cancer, Older People and Advocacy


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Let’s celebrate our volunteers

On Wednesday 3rd June 2015 Sandwell Advocacy hosted an event to celebrate the effort and achievements of our volunteers on all of our projects. The event was held at Langley Lodge, home to another charity who we have worked closely with in recent years.

Paddy and Juanita, SCOPA staff

Paddy and Juanita, SCOPA staff

Our Volunteer co-ordinator, Juanita, had been busy all afternoon preparing the room for our guests. Every table had a crisp white linen table cloth and a display of multi-coloured balloons to match the SCOPA logo. Someone commented the room looked good enough for a wedding or birthday party! The evening started when our Chairperson, Lesley Donnelly welcomed everyone and thanked them for attending.  This was followed by a buffet and drinks prepared by two of our advocates, Jodie and Helen.

Geraldine Brown, volunteer

Geraldine Brown, volunteer

When everyone was fed and watered it was time to present certificates.  There were volunteers from various projects as well as the management committee board who also give their time freely to attend meetings and events.  We were then joined by our Project Co-ordinator, Dave Bradshaw who had been in London all day.  Dave was able to present a certificate to one of our longer standing volunteers who also arrived a little later as she had to make child care arrangements before coming out.

Dave presenting certificate to volunteer Carmen

Dave presenting certificate to volunteer Carmen

Volunteers and staff then organised themselves into teams in readiness for the Annual Quiz with Paddy as the Quiz master.  The final result was extremely close with just half a point between first and second place.

The winning The strong women team Geraldine Lesley Joyce

The winning “The Strong Women” Team – Geraldine, Lesley and Joyce

The evening finished at around 9pm and those that were able helped to tidy up before setting off home. Everyone had an enjoyable evening and said they enjoyed chatting to people in a different and relaxed setting.

Sandwell Advocacy have been hosting NCVO Volunteer Celebration events now for 13 years and it is very much part of their annual calendar, the quiz being the highlight of the evening as teams battle it out to win “a pat on the back”.  The rivalry is all very jovial although aspersions were cast in regard to use of mobile phones and the fixing of scores, all taken in good spirit and a good time was had by everyone present.

Jodie McCaughan, Sandwell Cancer, Older People and Advocacy (SCOPA)


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“I’m keen to get started”

Sandwell Advocacy’s Juanita Williams writes about recent training sessions for potential new volunteer advocates.

As Sandwell Advocacy’s Volunteer Co-ordinator I led our recent training sessions ably supported by the very experienced Paddy Elmore who volunteered his time to support me.

Juanita and Paddy

Juanita and Paddy

The volunteers all have experience of cancer in some form or another and come from a variety of backgrounds, each of them bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to our sessions. They have working life experience of housing and care homes, nursing, social work, pensions and finance – all valuable assets to share with our group.

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Our wonderful new volunteers

The training covered what we do at Sandwell Advocacy: understanding advocacy, the role of an advocate, different types of advocacy, communication, confidentiality, boundaries, working with professionals, dilemmas, personal safety, lone working, case studies and scenarios; the majority of which was specifically related to cancer issues.

It took place over two days and proved interesting; whilst they had lots of life skills, their knowledge of advocacy was limited and this led to great conversation during the case studies and exercises as they considered their potential roles.  They have all confirmed they still wish to become advocates on the project even though they acknowledge it may not be an easy ride!  They are keen to support others on their cancer journey and want to use their experiences to ensure things go as smoothly as they possibly can.

Sandwell Advocacy Logo

As referrals are now coming in, it won’t be long before they are matched with their partners and start making a real difference to the lives of older people affected by cancer.  We will be on hand to support them along the way and are currently planning further sessions to support them in the future.  The good news is that other volunteers are preparing to start their training as soon as times can be found to suit them.

One of our volunteers said she found the sessions “very informative and certainly gave me something to think about. The Macmillan literature will prove useful in the future, particularly the contacts and organisations. All in all I enjoyed it and am keen to get started.”

Juanita Williams


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A day out with MISS Betty – the Macmillan Information Support Service Bus

Back in January 2015 Anna Jones from Macmillan Cancer Support invited us to join her team on MISS Betty – the Macmillan Information Support Service Bus in Victoria Square, Birmingham City Centre.

Although SCOPA is based in Sandwell we are aware that many Sandwell residents visit the city of Birmingham with their families – especially during February half term week, so we accepted their offer and Paddy Elmore and Juanita Williams joined Jez, Karima and Caroline on the afternoon of Tuesday 17th February.

The mobile centre tours the UK, visiting high streets, communities and events to bring free, confidential information and support.

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Juanita on MISS Betty

You don’t need an appointment to speak to the cancer information specialists. And you’re welcome whether you have a cancer diagnosis, are worried about cancer or are visiting on behalf of a friend or relative.

The bus was parked up by the Council House, Town Hall and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, over looked by a statue of Queen Victoria and the Floozy in the Jacuzzi!

It was a cold, blustery afternoon but we were greeted by the Macmillan staff with a lovely hot cup of coffee and a smile.  Emily Davidson, the Birmingham Macmillan Fundraising Manager was also on board sharing information.

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Juanita and Paddy

The bus offers clinical, financial, emotional and practical support information from professionals working in the cancer field.  Promoting local services is very important to the staff so we took along some of our leaflets and business cards for members of the public. The bus has information on virtually everything you could ask for if you have a question about living with cancer from clinical information to the benefits of gardening and how to cook healthy meals.  It’s amazing how many questions people have and nothing is too much trouble for the staff. Sometimes people come on board to share their stories, donate some money or just thank Macmillan for the support they gave to loved ones.

There’s a small cubicle on board where people can have a chat in private with any of the staff and volunteers.  It’s a really inviting and friendly set up. People just walk in with all sorts of questions and enquiries.  We have met the staff before when they visited Sandwell last year so they are fully aware of the service SCOPA offers.

SCOPA-logoWe hope to join the team again when they are next in the area and hopefully we will have more of our own leaflets to hand out………….. and maybe, just maybe the sun will be shining and it will be a bit warmer …………. You never know!

Juanita Williams, Volunteer co-ordinator, Sandwell Cancer, Older People and Advocacy


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Launch of SCOPA on Macmillan Cancer Support World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

How time flies, it’s hard to believe it’s been over two months since Sandwell Advocacy hosted the official launch of “Sandwell Cancer, Older People and Advocacy Project” at Sandwell Irish Community Association in The Lodge of Langley Park, a lovely setting in Sandwell on such a beautiful morning.Sandwell Advocacy Logo

This date on 26th September may be familiar to you as it is also Macmillan Cancer Supports ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’. Our newly recruited Volunteer Co-ordinator, Juanita Williams has been hosting Coffee mornings since 2006 and suggested this would be a great day to invite partners, colleagues and friends to celebrate this project.  The local authority Press Officer came along to photograph and report on the event.

Macmillan Cancer Support fundraiser, Cath Mansell with Mayor Cllr Derek Rowley and his consort Mrs. Glenis Rowley

Macmillan Cancer Support fundraiser, Cath Mansell with Mayor Cllr Derek Rowley and his consort Mrs. Glenis Rowley

The Mayor of Sandwell, Cllr Derek Rowley and his Consort Mrs Glenis Rowley arrived promptly at 10.00 am and were met by our Chair Lesley Donnelly and Project Manager Dave Bradshaw. They were keen to hear about the project and how it can help Sandwell residents who have been affected by cancer, something he tells us is all too common across the borough.  They were informed about the invaluable role that volunteer peer advocates play in this work and additionally who can be referred.  As the morning progressed he was able to sit and talk our Local Cancer Champion Board members who joined us.  There were many local residents who came out to support the event and they were also interested to hear about the work and many knew of family and friends who would have benefited from the service.

Sandwell Irish Community Association venue, the Mayor and consort mingle

Sandwell Irish Community Association venue, the Mayor and consort mingle

As the morning progressed there was much chatter, drinking of tea and eating of delicious cakes along with a raffle which had been organised and donated by Gayle Pritchard of the local Co-op funeral directors. Gayle is keen to be more involved with the project and is intending to invite our team to attend their regional meeting in order to meet other partners.

Sandwell NHS and local authority Public Health professionals mingled with staff and guests until 1.00pm when we said goodbye to the Mayor and his party.

All in all we felt the launch was a success in raising the profile of the work we do and hope to have inspired some people to join our increasing team of volunteers.

Lesley Donnelly, SCOPA Chair; Mayor Cllr Derek Rowley; Juanita Williams, volunteer coordinator; Dave Bradshaw, Project Manager; Paddy Elmore, SCOPA Independent Advocate

Lesley Donnelly, SCOPA Chair; Mayor Cllr Derek Rowley; Juanita Williams, volunteer coordinator; Dave Bradshaw, Project Manager; Paddy Elmore, SCOPA Independent Advocate

A total of £300 was raised thanks to the generosity of all who attended and the volunteers who stepped up to serve endless refreshments. Hopefully this will become an annual event as our numbers grow.

 

Juanita Williams, Volunteer Co-ordinator