On Wed 2 Nov, I went to the community opening of the new Maggie’s Centre in the grounds of Nottingham City Hospital.
The remit of Maggie’s is to “bring together professional help, communities of support and building design to create exceptional centres…” The ‘building design’ aspect of this is very evident from the first sight of the building, but also its interiors. Check out the video to see for yourself.
There was quite a flurry of activity, mostly focused on the kitchen area, where teas and coffee were being served. The table was heaving with home-made cakes and sandwiches – clearly a number of people had been busy baking.
The centre operates on a drop-in basis, so I imagine once it’s up and running normally, the kitchen area will be busy most of the time, with people making drinks and sitting around chatting.
There are a few small rooms which may be used for a private chat, reflecting, meditating, crying, one-to-one counselling or even to have a lie down, after treatment for example. There are also larger meeting rooms for group sessions, such as Relaxation, Benefits Advice, Nutrition, etc. I asked if they would be offering any other individual therapies/support such as massage, but they told me that due to limited funds, apart from counselling, they are only able to offer group activities.
The reason I asked about massage is because a friend with myeloma who lives in Manchester had mentioned going to a support centre, where they offered various individual therapies, including massage, but only four sessions per person due to high demand and limited funds. She felt she had benefitted very much from her sessions. I get backache most days, from the damage to my spine caused by the myeloma, so was looking forward to a bit of a treat.
The centre will be run by just two staff, one of whom, Mandy (who appears on the video) I met the other week, is the Centre Head and the psychologist who provides the counselling. As they are still busy with organising the place, it will be a few weeks before I can have an appointment. I left my contact details and hope to hear from them soon.
I spoke to the other staff member, Kate about the other activities they offer and she gave me their weekly schedule. I thought the creative writing session might be good, but it clashes with my T’ai Chi class on Friday mornings. When I mentioned this, Kate said that the timetable is provisional and it may be possible to change it, depending on demand, so I’ll wait to see what happens.
Kate also said that as the centre is just opening, they don’t yet know what the demand will be. If the community need is for individual therapies more than group support, then they might need to reconsider what they offer.
While we were chatting, another woman mentioned volunteering in the library room, which gave me the idea that perhaps I could volunteer my facilitating skills. I left my details and Kate said that once they are operating fairly normally, they would probably call people who wish to volunteer and have some sort of interview and induction/training. Perhaps this will be a way back into part-time work, whether paid or not…?
I left the Centre feeling slightly disappointed that there was no massage available and that I would have to wait a while longer for a counselling appointment, yet feeling impressed and hopeful about the other possibilities.
I also came away thinking that this is a charity that I might want to support in terms of fundraising. I don’t feel like that about cancer research charities, because I think research into diseases shouldn’t have to rely on charity. But the service offered by Maggie’s seems to be a much appreciated add-on for supporting people with cancer to face/deal with the distress and emotional side of being ill.
It seems appropriate that it’s not part of the health service; being independent allows them to operate in a completely non-medical way… in a completely non-medical environment, where just being in the building can make one feel nurtured. Although not vital, it seems that for many, this specialised support may be just what’s needed at times.