Helping Matters needs volunteers to aid cancer patients

Jenny Howse is a Macmillan Cancer Support volunteer. Picture: contributed
Jenny Howse is a Macmillan Cancer Support volunteer. Picture: contributed
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A LEADING charity is calling for people to get involved in an Edinburgh project which provides assistance for cancer patients.

Bosses at Macmillan Cancer Support said they were looking for volunteers for their Helping Matters service, which provides practical and emotional aid to people with cancer.

As part of the service, which was set up in the Capital two years ago, volunteers are matched with an affected person or family who they visit for a few hours a week for up to three months.

They can offer practical help in areas such as light housework, shopping and cooking.

Transport to appointments, social activities, emotional support and providing a listening ear are among the other 
activities provided by volunteers.

Now, with the number of referrals to the service growing, the charity is looking for more members to ensure it can continue to meet demand.

Retired civil servant Jenny Howse decided to get involved in volunteering for Macmillan after moving to Edinburgh with her Scottish partner three years ago.

She said: “When you move somewhere new, it’s good to get involved in the local community. I saw an advert for the Helping Matters service and thought it fitted the bill.

“You provide support for up to 12 weeks and then you let the charity know when you are next available, so you can have breaks in between.

“It can be quite intense when you’re supporting people in crisis or going through a difficult point in their life, so sometimes it is good to take a break.”

Since becoming involved in the service last year, the 63-year-old from Murrayfield has helped support three different individuals, mainly by providing transport to and from appointments.

“I have had a really positive experience each time with very different people,” she said.

“They have all been amazing, interesting, brave people. It’s been extraordinary to have that interaction with them.

“I have also got to know Edinburgh in a way I hadn’t before – visiting new places, doing new things with a range of people who have got very different interests.”

Jenny has had personal experience of cancer, losing her mother to the illness 13 years ago. Her sister also underwent treatment for cancer last year.

She said: “My mother had a Macmillan nurse who was very good. I remember that very well and found it enormously helpful.

“There’s a sense of giving something back because you benefited as a family from Macmillan.”

Macmillan is one of the UK’s leading cancer support charities.

Its mission statement says the organisation’s aim is to “reach and improve the lives of everyone living with cancer and to inspire millions of others to do the same”.

It states: “There are 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK today, and as more people live longer with their cancer, this number is set to grow to four million by 2030. We want to make sure we can provide support to everyone who needs it, to help people affected by cancer feel more in control of their lives.”