Ralph's Story

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Ralph's Story

Ralph case study.pngMy name is Ralph and I have been volunteering with Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries for 9 months. I got involved because I felt I could make a real contribution towards helping people affected by cancer. I have also been supporting people with bereavement and loss as a counsellor at Cruse for a number of years. It is personally rewarding being a Macmillan Cancer Information & Support Volunteer as I am there every week for anyone affected by cancer.

I expected more people to come along to our service each week however I feel I am making a difference every time I support someone. I use my skills and give people the opportunity to talk in confidence and be listened to. Seeing the relief on the faces of people is satisfying, having organised a referral and reassuring them that support is available from us whatever stage they are at in their cancer journey. It is a privilege that people seek our help and I feel a responsibility to do my best for them. 

Macmillan’s valued work resonated with me personally as my dear father died from prostate cancer. Aside from giving my best to people affected by cancer, my aims were to learn more about cancer and the Macmillan Cancer Support services. 

The best things about volunteering are meeting people and, even more so, helping to improve the day-to-day lives of people each week at the various library drop-in services I cover. I find the complementary therapies, provided by Cancer Support Scotland, an attractive option for service users especially as it is available in several locations. My experience of outreach demonstrated its effectiveness in spreading the word about Macmillan’s services and forging a connection with a wider variety of people.

even the small things we do at Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries can make a huge difference to people’s lives

A time I felt I made a difference was when a young woman came in looking for some guidance and support. Her mum had recently been diagnosed with myeloma. She said she felt very stressed as she was trying to come to terms with the implications for herself and her family. Understandably she was anxious about the care her mum was likely to get day-to-day and how her benefits would be affected. She was also looking to find out whether better transport options were available to ease her return home from hospital appointments. 

The woman seemed to appreciate the chance to unload her feelings and share them with us. Her mum’s prognosis was not good and was proving tough to handle. Providing a willing ear and some time and space to express herself along with referrals to Improving the Cancer Journey and the Long Term Conditions & Macmillan Service seemed to reassure her that help was at hand. 

When she welcomed the suggestion of a massage with the Cancer Support Scotland complementary therapist with a smile I realised that even the small things we do at Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries can make a huge difference to people’s lives.   
I think having the service in libraries has been successful mostly because they are located in the community with some of the libraries acting as a hub. Libraries are perceived as places of calm and may offer a safe-environment feeling for people to share personal issues.
The most unexpected thing about volunteering is finding out about the wide and impressive range of services available from Macmillan Cancer Support which we are able to refer people into.

Three words that sum up my volunteering experience with Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries are: Rewarding, interesting and friendliness.

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