Improving Health by Stealth : Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries

Written by: Janice Malone, Macmillan Programme Manager, Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries

Published: 31/07/2015

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Partnership working is the answer to the questions asked by austerity.

The recession in the UK has meant significant public spending cuts. In order to continue to develop and deliver high quality services, instances of third and public sector partnership working to improve health and tackle health inequalities at times of economic austerity have risen.

The Strategic Partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and Glasgow Life is one such example of innovative partnership working which is having a very real impact, through transforming public libraries into ‘community spaces’ where people can access services in a neutral and safe environment.

With cancer cases on the rise, the financial pressures on the NHS mean that more pressure is being, and will continue to be placed on clinical staff to manage their caseloads. We are able to demonstrate the power and benefits of volunteers offering emotional support and information in their local communities and why this model works better in practice than current models of this being the clinician’s responsibility.

The Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries Programme is approaching access to cancer support and information in a unique, ambitious and innovative way.   This service design allows people affected by cancer to improve their quality of life by ensuring they receive the right information and support at the right time, regardless of where they are on their cancer journey or where they live.

Macmillan @ Glasgow Libraries’ over 120 strong volunteer force allows us to expand our reach and deliver our message to a wider audience.

Our volunteer-led programme (although not free) is cost-effective and enabling us to build community capacity and social capital in the city.  Through our volunteering programme we are developing the skills of hundreds of Glasgow citizens in cancer awareness, communication and listening skills.  In short we are building a network of support that is available right across the city of Glasgow.

In just 3 years we have seen this network strengthen and flourish enabling us to reach almost 7,000 people affected by cancer in Glasgow through our volunteer team delivering 17,000 hours of support and information directly to people affected by cancer.

We equip local people with the knowledge and skills that they can apply in everyday life, to self-manage and support others.  There is a strong evidence base to suggest that volunteering improves health and wellbeing.  Through our volunteering programme we are developing active healthy citizens who are equipped to spread the message about information and support delivered in the local community.  We are improving health by stealth!

I believe that there is the potential to not only roll out this model of support and information for people affected by cancer across the UK, but we have a duty to investigate if this model of support service couple be applicable to other long term health conditions.  I would love to hear your views on this.

Join us, you can sign up to receive our bi-monthly e-newsletter by emailing macmillan@glasgowlife.org.uk. You can also follow us on Twitter @MacmillanGL or search for us on Facebook.

Janice Malone

Macmillan Programme Manager

Glasgow Life

0141 287 2942


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