Telford hospital centre gives cancer patients a vital lifeline

It is a small converted storeroom behind a shop selling rehabilitation aids. But for hundreds of people around Shropshire, these tidy but most modest surroundings are a lifeline.

Telford hospital centre gives cancer patients a vital lifeline

"We're a drop-in centre for anybody that's affected by cancer," says Jess Brindley, who runs the new Macmillan Cancer Support information centre at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital.

"That might be patients, someone who has got someone in the family with cancer, or friends."

The centre opened last year following the success of a similar operation at Shrewsbury. It is staffed five days a week, and the charity takes pride in the fact that no subjects relating to the disease are off limits.

£4,857 could operate the welfare rights element of the Macmillan phone service for a day. In that time, specialists could, on average, deal with 77 cases and help secure about £198,000 in unclaimed benefits.

£4,418 could pay for a Macmillan nurse for a month, helping people living with cancer and their families receive essential medical, practical and emotional support.

£3,600 could keep a Macmillan information and support centre stocked with all the information resources it needs to support people affected by cancer for a year.

£3,424 could operate the Macmillan phone service for two hours. In this time, cancer support specialists could answer 96 calls and emails.

£2,272 could pay for a Macmillan Cancer support worker for a month, helping people living with cancer receive the support they need.

£822 could pay for a suite of four videos on chemotherapy to be translated into British Sign Language to help people affected by cancer who have hearing loss and use sign language.

£537 could pay for a Macmillan social worker or family support worker for a week. They work with agencies to help people manage the social and practical problems of living with cancer.

£270 could pay for a Macmillan grant that helps a family affected by cancer take a holiday.

Today the charity declared it a huge success – but also emphasised the need for donations to keep it going.

"We provide a listening ear," says Jess. "People are able to come in and have a chat to somebody about what's going on with them.

"Sometimes we can help signpost them towards other services that might be available, or refer them to somebody who might be able to give them some specialist advice."

The 32-year-old, from Shrewsbury, started work with Macmillan shortly before the centre opened in July last year, having previously worked helping people with addiction problems. She says the centre at Shrewsbury receives about 60 visitors a month, and many patients had been asking for a similar service in Telford.

"We have information here on everything from chemotherapy and radiotherapy, to getting travel insurance, there are booklets for children and young people," she says.

Of course, providing this type of service does not come cheap, and the charity invested £59,000 fitting out the centre.

It falls to dedicated volunteers like Jayney Davies to raise the funds to keep the charity running. When her grandmother Irene Gray was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1991, the charity was a major support.

"She had a Macmillan nurse come to the house, which was rearranged so she could sleep downstairs," she recalls. "This meant she could stay at home."

Jess says in the 10 months the centre has been running, it has made a massive difference to people's lives.

"Having information at a time when people are making major decisions about their treatment is really important," she says.

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