Some 2,884 people from Devon 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 Devon for a total number of 17 days – 14 bus visits and a further three outreach days.
Tina Churchill, Lead Cancer Information and Support Specialist for the South West talks about some of the highlights.
‘We attended a Schools Healthy Living event in towns across Devon, and attended the North Devon Show,’ she said. We were supported by our Macmillan Welfare Benefits Advisers from ‘Citizens Advice, and had visitors who had travelled 40 miles to see us there.’
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 visitors 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 is next due in Devon later this week at following locations:
Tuesday 21st March – 10am to 4pm
Plymouth, Junction of Armada Way & Cornwall Street, PL1 1LE
Wednesday 22nd March – 10am to 4pm
Tavistock, Bedford Square, Outside Town Hall, PL19 OAE
Thursday 23rd March – 10am to 4pm
Exeter, Bedford Square, Near Barclays, EX1 1LX
Friday 24th March – 9am to 3pm
Exmouth, The Strand, Rolle Street, EX8 1HE