We’ve helped 1,600 people living with cancer in Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight through our remote Support Centres, choirs and patient transport alone since the coronavirus pandemic forced us to temporarily close our support centres on 23 March.
Although lockdown measures are beginning to ease, it’s still an anxious time for anyone living with cancer. Many have had treatment delayed or are worried about a higher risk of infection and are feeling isolated and vulnerable.
To help, we’re providing:
~ Telephone helpline covering our support centres across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight Monday to Thursday between 10 am and 3 pm
~ Telephone counselling
~ Regular one-to-one check-in calls
~ Daisy bus transporting Isle of Wight patients to their appointments at Southampton and Portsmouth hospitals daily
~ Distance Reiki, virtual meditation, Tai Chi and QiGong
~ Virtual Sing for Life choir sessions
~ A Facebook support group which has 178 members
~ Virtual coffee and catch-up mornings
~ Virtual sound therapy support groups
~ Tech support for clients who are struggling to access support online
~ Email mentoring and support provided by befrienders
~ Dedicated online support featuring advice, videos and information
Over 1,500 people have viewed our online support pages and YouTube videos. We’re planning to upload more video content within the next couple of weeks. We’ve also been linking up with local organisations and larger national charities to support vulnerable and isolated people living with cancer. Additionally, we’re launching nutrition courses in each area next week.
Alyson Gibbons, who’s been visiting our Chandler’s Ford centre, says:
“I was waiting for a new diagnosis when the lockdown was announced and was feeling particularly anxious. Knowing there are people out there who know how this feels and who I know I can say anything to is so important. The doors to the centre may be closed, but the community continues to come together and they are giving me the strength I need to get up and carry on. I’m so grateful for that.”
Colette Cowan, Wessex Cancer Trust’s Head of Service delivery says she is incredibly proud of how our cancer Support Centre managers who quickly evolved their services so they could continue to support existing and new clients living with cancer while the Centres are closed:
“Lots of the people we help say Wessex Cancer Trust is like having an extended family, and our Centre managers are at the heart of that. At a time when most of us are stuck at home, they’ve gone above and beyond to make sure anyone living with cancer knows they still have somewhere to go. I’ve heard many people living with cancer say that there are others in harder situations, so they feel guilty asking for support. Please don’t. Everyone in the Wessex Cancer Trust community is passionate about helping. I urge anyone who may be worried about symptoms, are struggling with a diagnosis, treatment or recovery, or who may be caring for a loved one with cancer not to wait, hoping things will get easier. Now more than ever we understand how difficult a cancer journey can be, so please reach out if you need us.”
With most of our planned fundraising or events postponed or cancelled, we’ve set up a Just Giving page to raise money so we can continue to be there for as many local people living with cancer as possible.