The people of Long Sutton and district have found a practical way of helping others in their hour of need.
A Macmillan Volunteer Hub was launched at the Market House last Friday to bring together cancer sufferers and people who can offer practical and emotional support.
Louise Irving is the volunteer services co-ordinator for Lincolnshire employed by Macmillan Cancer Support.
She says as soon as she was approached about setting up a group in Long Sutton she was aware of something special going on.
She says: “I think there is a real sense of community in this area and I think it is quite tangible. That’s what I felt from the work we have done setting up the group. There is really community spirit and people want to do something to benefit their community.”
That was the motivation behind Yvonne James’ initial contact with Louise, and she has been able to encourage a number of friends and acquaintances to get involved as volunteers.
That has made life a lot easier for Louise, who says that she would normally go into an area that has been identified as having a need for a volunteer hub and start recruiting from scratch.
The group had around a dozen volunteers at the launch, but Louise says they always need more. She says: “The reality is in every service we set up we have more referrals than volunteers.”
The Long Sutton area is one of the pockets of high incidence of cancers in the county identified by Macmillan, probably because there are so many older people in the community.
The Macmillan Volunteer Service was set up about three years ago because nurses realised there was a gap in provision – they could support people clinically in hospital and for a while in the community, but people still had needs.
Louise said: “These things turned out to be basic, but to have a real impact.”
It could be putting the kettle on and chatting to someone who doesn’t have family living locally, hoovering or ironing for a woman who has had a mastectomy, or even helping where there is family but there is a need for emotional support from someone not directly involved.
Volunteers go through an induction process at the Market House and all the necessary checks are made.
Yvonne, as lead volunteer, will go out and assess the needs of any new referral, male or female, and then they are matched with a volunteer – and, wherever possible, one who shares similar interests.
People usually have a dedicated volunteer who will visit for six weeks, or a maximum of 12 weeks – and the service is entirely free. Visit the Market House to find out more about the hub.