More than 10,000 attendances have been recorded at the city-wide Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries outreach programme, since the programme launched in 2012
Offering emotional and practical support to people affected by cancer, the innovative service operates across the city’s library portfolio of 32 community libraries, and the iconic Mitchell, creating a welcoming, friendly environment for all attendees.
Almost half of all attendees described themselves as a person with cancer, with a further 26% identifying themselves as a family member of a person living with cancer.
The volunteer-led service provides a much needed listening ear to anyone affected by cancer, alongside access to a number of additional support services based across Glasgow, including complementary therapies, counselling, benefits advice and a range of physical activity programmes, and the team are keen to ensure that the people of Glasgow can access this service on their doorstep.
Councillor Archie Graham OBE, Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “There are thousands of people in the city living with the impact of cancer, either directly or through a loved one.
“Thanks to a unique partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, Glasgow Life continues to offer practical and emotional support in our 33 city-wide libraries, to ensure that everyone affected by cancer has access to quality information at the heart of their community.
“We know that a cancer diagnosis can be incredibly isolating, and I am heartened to see that thousands of citizens affected by cancer have taken advantage of the skills, knowledge and friendly support offered by Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries. This team of volunteers are a credit to our city, and I hope their passion for supporting our residents helps to ensure that no one in Glasgow faces cancer alone this winter.”
The winter months are traditionally a difficult period for those living with cancer, and their families, with an estimated 30,000 people living with cancer in the UK saying Christmas is one of the loneliest times of the year, and approximately 50,000 saying New Year is the same, according to new data published this month by Macmillan Cancer Support.
Of the total number of people attending Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries , 42% cited their main reasons for visiting as simply having someone to talk to, and the city-wide support service wants to remind Glaswegians that there is a network of support across the city, for those who are affected by cancer.
Seventy-four year old Alan is just one of the thousands of people to take advantage of the free service. Diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014, Alan first attended the drop in service at Royston Library in February 2016.
Alan said: “Up until my 70’s I was bouncing around with lots of energy, that’s why I think I took this so bad. When I did receive my diagnosis I initially refused the treatment options - I was on my own and didn’t think I would be able to cope. Later, I changed my mind.
“In February 2016, I was in the middle of the hormone treatment and because I lived on my own I was involved with the Good Morning Service who called me to support over the phone. They referred me to Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries and I got a call from one of the team.
“I told the lady on the phone that I felt isolated. When I think about that now, I know that I was referring to the feeling of depression, almost like a feeling of being ‘doomed’ and locked into myself. My motivation had dropped; I didn’t feel like I could do anything. That’s when she told me about the drop in service in Royston Library and invited me to come along and chat to the volunteers.
“Although I hadn’t used the service before, it was so easy because it was in a library and a really relaxed atmosphere. It was also local which made a difference because I was sometimes feeling too tired and weak to go far. If it was anywhere else I couldn’t have got to it.
“At first I went along most weeks. I wanted to find out information and I also wanted to speak to ordinary people with understanding. Now, I’ve completed treatment for prostate cancer and I am being monitored, but I still drop in to chat to the volunteers because it is a safe place to come and talk about what I am going through.
“All the volunteers have been great; I feel they can relate to me. They listened and I felt reassured.
“If someone wasn’t sure whether to use the Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries service, I would say it’s easy enough, just go in and someone will come over to you and say hello. “
Janice Preston, Head of Services in Scotland at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: "The Macmillan support services have been a real lifeline to many people affected by cancer in Glasgow since the link-up with libraries launched. We know the difference it can make for people like Alan to have someone to talk to in their community and this 10,000 milestone shows how big the impact has been right across the city."
Glasgow Libraries works in partnership with Macmillan to provide a network of cancer information & support services at the heart of the community, offering emotional and practical support to anyone who is affected by cancer. To find out more, please visit: www.glasgowlife.org.uk/libraries/macmillan-at-glasgow-libraries.
And if you’d like to support Macmillan, find out more information or just to chat, you can call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm).