We feel a special joy when we give to others

‘I can think of no better area in which to volunteer, nor a better charity to volunteer with than Wessex Cancer Support’ – Ann, volunteer befriender at our Bournemouth cancer Support Centre 


Ann James

Our wonderful befriender, Ann


Christmas is traditionally a time for giving, but you can make a real difference without spending lots of money. By giving your time and volunteering with us, you can make a lasting impact on the lives of those affected by cancer.

How can I make a difference?

We have 44 paid staff and around 250 volunteers across our four Support Centres and five shops, so it goes without saying that our volunteers are the lifeblood of Wessex Cancer Support.

Every single person that gives up their time to help us is instrumental in supporting local people living with cancer; from helping to run events and working in our shops, to befriending and providing therapies.

What’s in it for me?

Whatever your role, you’ll make a huge difference to the lives of our clients. Our volunteers tell us that being with Wessex Cancer Support is incredibly rewarding – providing opportunities to gain confidence, learn new skills and meet different people. What’s more, research shows that volunteering can make us happier and reduce depression. Eye contact and smiling releases the hormone Oxytocin which helps us handle stress better. And there’s nothing like the warm glow you get from using your own skills and experience to help someone else.

Ann, a volunteer befriender at our Bournemouth cancer Support Centre explains why she finds it so rewarding

I first heard about Wessex Cancer Support when I was volunteering for a Macmillan Project in Southampton. The project manager arranged for the project’s volunteers to meet with some of Wessex Cancer Support’s volunteers so we could learn how they support local people affected by cancer. We also had some joint training sessions. These sessions were my introduction to Wessex Cancer Support’s work, and I was amazed at how fully they supported anyone affected by cancer.  I knew then that I wanted to work with them, so when the Macmillan project came to an end, I contacted the Bournemouth cancer Support Centre and became a befriender in 2019.

A place where there’s no judgement or expectation

As a befriender, my role is primarily of support – but it’s more than that. Our clients come to us at various stages of their cancer journey. Every person is different, as are their needs and experiences. They can be distressed, emotional, frightened, worried. We provide a haven. Somewhere for them to come and chat. To talk about what they’re going through. A place where there is no judgement, opinion or expectation of behaviour. It’s a place where they can just come and sit quietly, if that’s what they need. If they want to chat, we’ll do that. Whatever their needs, we will help and support them. It can be daunting coming to the Support Centre for the first time, but you can be reassured that for clients and volunteers alike, it’s so friendly, welcoming and supportive.

Gentle encouragement

Sometimes, clients do have questions about their treatment or their specific cancer. This may ask our opinion and advice about what they should or shouldn’t do. This can be daunting if you’re a new volunteer, especially if you’ve had similar experiences. As befrienders, we always keep in mind that our role is to support, not to dispense any medical advice. If asked, we encourage our client to speak to their GP or specialist nurse. It can be difficult sometimes, especially if our client is worried and emotional, but we always keep in mind why we’re here – to support.

My role is a privilege

Supporting someone through their cancer journey is a privilege. I get to know people, to hear about their lives, their likes and their interests. People have a wealth of knowledge, experiences and life stories. We get to laugh with our clients, to share their joys with them and, yes, sometimes their sadness. When a client no longer needs us, it’s comforting to know that we’ve been a part of their journey.


We have lots of volunteering opportunities available

Click here to find your perfect role