Volunteers are at the heart of our services and are the people who provide information and support to people affected by cancer in Glasgow Libraries.
Our volunteers go through a rigorous selection process to ensure that they as individuals have the skills and qualities that are required to carry out this role. Every volunteer must complete an application form, attend an informal interview, have a basic disclosure check completed and provide us with two character references.
Before beginning to volunteer in our service volunteers must attend a training course which prepares them for the role. Our volunteer training course is delivered in conjunction with Macmillan Cancer Support’s learning team and covers subjects such as:
- Communication & listening skills
- Boundaries & dealing with difficult situations
- Basic cancer awareness
- Online information training
- Signposting and referring to other organisations
Next, our volunteers embark on a period of induction where they are provided with intensive support from their named Macmillan Information & Support Officer, offered regular meetings for one-to-one support, opportunities to come together and share experiences at volunteer team meetings and access to regular training events on topics relevant to the role.
Training sessions we have offered to volunteers in the past have included:
- Welfare benefits awareness
- Bowel cancer awareness
What Are The Limitations Of The Information & Support Volunteer Role?
It is absolutely crucial that our volunteers are clear on the limitations and boundaries of their role. Under no circumstances will any of our volunteers ever give medical of clinical information to any user of our services.
Often our volunteers are able to reassure service users that their question is a legitimate one and try to dispel the common perception that ‘my nurse/doctor is too busy to be bothered by question like this…’ by encouraging them to make contact.
We encourage our service users to sit and talk to our volunteers about how cancer is affecting them in their lives, but should a question arise about anything related to the medical care that a person is receiving our volunteers are trained to support that person to direct their question to their healthcare team.
We have telephones available in most of our drop-in centres should a service user have a clinical/medical question, our volunteers can offer the opportunity to call the Macmillan Support Line and speak to a cancer information nurse specialist right there and then. This can be particularly helpful in situations such as information on clinical trials or when an explanation of a piece of medical terminology is required.