LIBRARIES in the Capital are offering cancer patients, survivors and their families a new help service run by volunteers.
Instead of travelling several miles to their nearest hospital or booking an appointment at a medical practice, those in need of a listening ear will be able to attend six libraries across the city that will offer a personal drop-in service.
Every day six people in Edinburgh discover they have cancer, and as the number of people living with the deadly disease – or living beyond it – is set to almost double by 2030, Macmillan Cancer Support has said they are taking steps to ensure no-one goes through it alone.
The information and support service, in partnership with the city council, is already in full swing at the Central Library on George IV Bridge, and Craigmillar Library on Niddrie Mains Road.
Volunteers who are fully trained in cancer awareness and listening skills work at each library two days a week.
Later this year, drop-in services will also be rolled out at libraries at Leith and Drumbrae, as well as two other locations which are yet to be identified.
Yesterday, officials from MacMillan Cancer Support and the city council gathered to officially launch the service at the Central Library.
John Brattesani, from Colinton Mains, who lives with prostate cancer, was among the crowd.
The 64-year-old uses his experience of battling cancer to help others by volunteering in the library.
He said: “I’ve been through the treatments so I know what it feels like. I enjoy using my knowledge to help others.
“Since November, I’ve already helped four people and it feels good knowing you are making a difference to people’s lives – even just talking to them.”
The new service provides up-to-date and accurate information on all aspects of cancer, a listening ear and emotional support.
It is part of a more than £1 million investment made by Macmillian in Edinburgh.
Janice Malone, Macmillan’s engagement and volunteering manager for Scotland, rolled out the library drop-in service in Glasgow a few years ago.
She said: “When someone is diagnosed with cancer, or a loved one is diagnosed, it can raise lots of questions and concerns.
“We know it can also be difficult and costly for people affected by cancer to travel so having this support available locally in relaxed and friedly venues like libraries can make it much more accessible.”
Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s culture and sport leader, said: “Our libraries provide for local communities in so many ways, from social engagement to information access, and now we are able to extend this
“Most of us will be touched by cancer at some point in our lives, so it’s fantastic to know that this excellent service is available to give help and advice on a local level at such a difficult time.
“We have already seen people benefit from its introduction at Central and Craigmillar Libraries and I look forward to seeing it roll out to other communities in the area.”