Christmas is a time for giving and of course remembering others. For those in ill-health the holiday period can actually be a very difficult time. Is there anyone these days whose lives haven’t been touched in some way by Cancer? Maggies is an essential support for anyone going through cancer treatment, families of those with this terrible disease, and those who have recovered but are still affected by the long recovery. Here at HM we join forces with Brunel university in supporting Maggies, our “Local Charity of the Year”. But what is Maggies and what goes on there? Here is Anna’s story.
My name is Anna and I’m the Fundraising Manager for the West London Maggie’s Centre here in Hammersmith, on the grounds of Charing Cross Hospital. Our Centre is a wonderful, warm, welcoming place where we provide free support for people affected by cancer from all across London and the South East.
We are so delighted to have been chosen as one of Brunel’s local ‘Charity of the Year’ partners, and we’re really excited to see what the next academic year brings. We thought it might be a good idea to give an idea of what Maggie’s does and what a day in the life of our Centre looks like, so read on to find out more…
Firstly, it’s important to know that whilst you are supporting your local Centre here in London, Maggie’s is also a national charity with Centres based all over the country, on the grounds of NHS hospitals. This means that somewhere we might be supporting someone you know. Each Centre is unique in its design, with the emphasis on a light, welcoming and altogether different environment from the grey hospital setting. Within our Centres we have bright artworks, soft furnishings, cakes, coffee, tea and biscuits, and everything focuses around our kitchen table. It’s the ideal comfort of ‘home’ whilst being close to the clinical environment of the oncology ward.
No two days at our Centre are ever the same, however here’s a snapshot of a recent busy day at Maggie’s West London:
Our doors open at 9am sharp and our first visitors come in to warm up with a cup of tea, it’s blowing a gale outside!
Half an hour later and two visitors are with our Cancer Support Specialist, and our volunteer arrives for the day. She’ll meet and greet visitors during the day.
10:00 am arrives and the yoga room is all set up and our group starts their one hour session, focusing on regaining flexibility and movement. It’s also a great opportunity to get some headspace.
Lunchtime and some of our Nordic Walking Group start to arrive early for their afternoon session so they can eat lunch together around the kitchen table; there’s always lots of laughter and joking. Just because people have cancer, it doesn’t mean it’s a sad place to be. After lunch our personal trainer Carolyn has the Nordic Walking Group all set up and ready to go, so they wrap up warm and head out to walk along the Thames. Fresh air and exercise can be such wonderful medicine.
Three o’clock already and the group return and warm up with a cup of tea. Meanwhile one of our workshops is just finishing up, and suddenly the Centre is bursting at the seams with people and noise.
Late afternoon, a visitor comes in quite distressed and is supported by our Psychologist who thankfully is between appointments; she is able to help the lady and books her in for a session the following week.
After a busy day 5pm comes around, the Centre closes up and the team tidies up to be ready for what the next day will bring. The programme team will catch up about any important notes, and respond to any telephone messages which have been left during the course of the day.
Our Centre is not part of the NHS and is not funded by the government. We rely on the generosity and kindness of our community and our supporters. Funds raised by Brunel students will help us keep our doors open for the coming year. To find out more, visit www.maggiescentres.org/westlondon.