Mayor volunteers for Macmillan

Macmillan NI has set up the first ‘Macmillan Cancer Community Helpers’ project in Northern Ireland.  

As it is in the Bangor area, I dropped in as Mayor to find out what the program was all about and to offer a helping hand. 

I visited the home of Elizabeth Devlin who is currently undergoing cancer treatment alongside her Macmillan volunteer Ruth Farr and Macmillan Volunteer Service Manager Rachel Loughins.

Explaining the project Macmillan Volunteering Service Manager Rachel Loughins said: “The project recruits and trains volunteers to work directly with people living with cancer who need practical assistance or support in their own home.  Those living with cancer or recovering from treatment may be suffering from fatigue or pain which means they need help with household tasks or they may be isolated and in need of company.  

The ‘Macmillan Cancer Community Helpers’ programme connects those who want to volunteer in their community with those who need their help, this can be with gardening, cleaning, dog walking, shopping or simply a cup of tea and a chat.  The Macmillan team is there to help, offering local services delivered by trained volunteers that can give a helping hand when it is needed most.”

Speaking about my visit I said: "As someone with a number of family members affected by Cancer and the personal challenges arising, it was inspiring to see the new Macmillan volunteering scheme currently being piloted in Bangor. Working as One we can support and enable people with Cancer to enjoy life and undertake usual household tasks we all find difficult when tired and worn down. The volunteering scheme is a great initiative which I strongly support providing a helping hand whilst also combating social isolation through a cup of tea and chat which I greatly valued on my visit – it was on a par with afternoon tea at The Merchant!"

Elizabeth Devlin who receives help from ‘Macmillan Community Helpers’ said: "Having been through the ups and downs of cancer treatment, I have found the help Ruth offers invaluable.  The scheme is such a fantastic idea, Ruth is such a great help when I need it most.  She helps me a lot with my ironing and other practical things around the house but she is also great company for me.   Even with help from friends and family things can be extremely difficult so a volunteer prepared to give their time for others is a very special thing.  If I was healthy I would love to do the same for someone else."

Ruth Farr said of her volunteering:“It’s wonderful to give something back.  I got involved because I think it’s really important to support people going through the cancer journey. They are so brave and inspirational and I get so much joy from their positive attitude. It’s a privilege to help and I really enjoy spending time with Elizabeth”.

If you would like to volunteer or you or a family member would benefit from the service - contact rloughins@macmillan.org.uk or phone 028 90708 610

Notes on the program and volunteers
  • Volunteers can make regular home visits to provide practical help and support.
  • All volunteers are carefully selected by Macmillan and undergo thorough background checks.
  • All carry Macmillan identity badges with their photo on it.
  • All receive extensive training to help them provide the best possible support to people living with cancer.
  • All receive regular supervision from Macmillan.
  • Macmillan Cancer Community Helpers has been running since June 2013
  • The project will be rolled out across NI over the next 4 years but Bangor has been leading the way!