3,4931 people from Hampshire and a further 118 from the Isle of Wight accessed vital cancer advice and support in 2016, thanks to the Macmillan Mobile Cancer Information service.
The Macmillan mobile information bus – affectionately known as Bertie – has been parked up in town centres, rural communities, and events across the South West throughout the year. Staffed by cancer information specialists, the team provide practical and emotional support to visitors and help to answer any questions about cancer they may have. The buses contain a range of free information materials in addition to a private area for sensitive conversations.
Last year, the service came to Hampshire for a total number of 22 days2 – 17 bus visits and a further five outreach days, plus three days on the Isle of Wight. Tina Churchill, Lead Cancer Information and Support Specialist for the South West talks about some of the highlights; ‘Using strong links with our Boots partnership allowed us to extend our reach right across the Isle of Wight. We also conducted scoping visits to Guernsey and Alderney to explore how we can further support Island communities.
‘We had a very successful visit to the New Forest Show, seeing in excess of 1,000 people, and were able to reach a new audience by attending the Wickham Horse Fair where we supported a number of the travelling community.’
Michelle Smith, Macmillan’s Senior Lead Cancer Information Specialist for the mobile service, said: ‘2016 was an amazing year! The Mobile Information Team have reached thousands of people on our big green buses.
‘The mobile service is a free, confidential drop-in service where visitors can step onto the unit and ask any question they have about cancer whether it relates to themselves or someone they care about. We visited town centres, county shows, village coffee mornings, workplaces, football stadiums, Boots stores, markets and even joined farmers markets. The variety of places we visit enables us to reach people that might not be able to access Macmillan otherwise – particularly in rural communities.’
Last year, 31% of visitors3 to the bus in the South West lived in rural areas and over 62% of visitors4 were from deprived communities. ‘The queries we get cover a whole range of topics,’ Michelle continued. ‘Visitors want to know about signs and symptoms, financial advice, side-effects, local services, emotional support, end-of-life care and bereavement.
‘People tell us that having someone to talk with about cancer in their community can made a real difference. That’s why, this year, we’re determined to provide even more people across the South West with cancer information and support.’
The mobile service schedules can be found at: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/aboutus/contactus/mobileinformationcentrelocations.aspx
No one in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight should face cancer alone. For support, information or if you have any questions, call Macmillan Cancer Support free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk.