In this post Jaunita Williams, Volunteer Coordinator at Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy (SCOPA), tells us about a special festive lunch:
In December 2015 we invited our new Sandwell Cancer Older People and Advocacy (SCOPA) volunteers to join staff and management board members for Christmas lunch.
We chose a local pub and sent out the invitations with the menu choices. We were delighted they were able to join us in celebrating our year’s achievements. Our cancer advocacy volunteers were able to chat with everyone about their plans for the upcoming holiday period and we reflected on their contribution to the project. We had an enjoyable festive lunch and lots of laughs!
I have since been able to catch up with four of our volunteers and I asked them to define what it was that motivated them to get involved with the project and what they felt they had gained from volunteering. These are their responses.
• Sherry – as a breast cancer survivor and retired nurse I felt I had so much to offer to other people going through what I went through. I didn’t want to wait, I knew I was ready to start volunteering and I was given an advocacy partner quite quickly. I’ve supported her through a temporary displacement move and attended some hospital visits. I am really happy with how it is progressing and am looking forward to another partnership in the New Year.
• Andy – Recent circumstances out of my control meant I was wasn’t able to keep up my weekly visits. SCOPA staff supported me and attended meetings that I couldn’t go to. It’s all done at my pace and I feel I am making a difference and am appreciated. All the staff at SCOPA are helpful and I drop in whenever I am passing.
• Viv – I was placed with my advocacy partner within weeks of the training. As a survivor myself I knew how lonely it can be even when you have your family around you. I see my advocacy partner about once a week and we chat, he has lots of family and friends but they don’t know what’s on his mind. We find it easy to talk about his treatment and issues.
• Jim – I worked as a manager of a residential home for years and pretty much knew what to expect. SCOPA set up my advocacy partnership back in November but I have still to meet my partner. Her circumstances have changed quite quickly and she is now in a hospice, It is what it is, this is the nature of the work we do. Referrals take time to settle and I’m not surprised with how it’s going. Fortunately Sandwell Advocacy found other work for me to do, interviewing residents and family members in local homes. This is a really good use of my time and I feel that Sandwell Advocacy are allowing me to use my skills and experience to their best advantage.
As we are now well into the New Year and back at our work we are happy to have recruited two further volunteers and we hope that our “old hands” will be available to talk to the new ones and be able to share their experiences and offer advice and support in addition to the full training package they will be attending.
Juanita Williams, Volunteer Coordinator, SCOPA