A STALYBRIDGE man is one of a band of unsung heroes during Covid-19.
John Collins, 58, from Copley, is part of a team of Macmillan Solutions volunteers who have been driving shielding cancer patients to and from vital clinical appointments throughout lockdown.John, who retired three years ago from managing an engineering company, wears full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when he collects people from their homes to take them to treatment, scans, or counselling appointments.
“It’s not just about getting people to their appointments, it’s being a friendly face and some company on the way,” said John, who also helps maintain cancer patients’ gardens.
“I make the time to do it and I enjoy making a difference. It lifts people’s spirits if they can look out on to a garden that’s been tidied up.
“When you’re not feeling well it’s nice to have someone come along and give a helping hand,” said John who lost his sister Ann to cancer when she was a young woman.
Macmillan Cancer Support gave an emergency support grant of £12,000 to the Manchester-based Macmillan Solutions to help them continue to support cancer patients under lockdown.
Jacqui Narayansingh, Macmillan Solutions development manager, said: “John and all our volunteers provide so much more than practical help. They get to know the people they support and can tell if they have any worries or concerns that might be adding to their stress.
“With their consent we can then contact clinical teams, family and other services, and encourage them to ring the Macmillan advice line.
“Some of the people we reach are extremely isolated and vulnerable and do not have any other support than that provided by our volunteers.”
Jane Melvin, Macmillan Cancer Support’s head of partnerships North and North West, said: “Macmillan Solutions is making the difference to so many vulnerable shielding cancer patients across Greater Manchester.
“Their wonderful volunteers not only deliver vital supplies and friendship, but also ensure that patients are able to attend crucial treatment and diagnostic appointments.
“Macmillan Solutions are one of many Macmillan-funded services working hard to ensure that cancer does not become the ‘forgotten C’.
“It’s crucial the Government urgently sets out a clear plan of how cancer services will be prioritised in the NHS and the backlog cleared as quickly and safely as possible to ensure people with cancer don’t miss out on the critical support and treatment they need.”
In the UK, an estimated quarter of a million people with cancer fall into the clinically vulnerable category for coronavirus and Macmillan is experiencing an unprecedented surge in demand for its existing services.
In a bid to ensure it can continue to fund services and provide cancer care and support now and in the future, Macmillan recently launched an emergency fundraising appeal.
Macmillan also began rolling out a series of brand-new virtual services to ensure the three million people living with cancer in the UK can access the support they need, now more than ever.
The virtual services include a cancer and coronavirus digital hub, telephone buddies, virtual ‘prehabilitation’ services and increased support for Macmillan Nurses and professionals on the frontline.
Anyone affected by cancer can contact the Macmillan Support Line Service on 0808 808 00 00 or to access online support at Macmillan.org.uk
Find out more about volunteering with Macmillan Solutions at macmillansolutions.org.uk