As International Volunteers Day was celebrated on the 5th of December, CANSA is continually mindful that without those who volunteer we would not be able to deliver quality emotional and practical support to cancer patients, loved ones and caregivers, or educate local communities regarding how to lower personal cancer risk.
Volunteers are an integral part of CANSA, helping us to render the valuable care and support services we do, and assisting also with fundraising, marketing, health promotion and administration. Leader volunteers take the lead in communities to offer services to patients, their families, and caregivers. They further raise awareness by conducting talks and holding exhibitions in their local communities, promoting our cause and getting involved in advocacy work. Volunteering can provide the opportunity to learn many skills that can be carried into a career, including leadership, managing meetings, negotiation, and communications.
Lisa Strydom, CANSA’s Service Manager, Volunteer Programmes, says, “A new initiative to assist cancer patients is our CANSA Information and Support Desk project at public hospitals that are staffed by our trained volunteers who provide information to patients and help with referrals to CANSA support groups, Tele Counselling, and other services.
Currently we have Information Desks at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital (JHB), Steve Biko Hospital (Pretoria), Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital (Durban) and Frere Hospital (East London). We’ve recently received approval to launch Information Desks at Universitas Hospital (Bloemfontein) and Robert Sobukwe Hospital (Kimberley) and hope to expand to other hospitals very soon as well. Oncology patients at public hospitals often lack information about cancer and are not well-equipped to cope with the disease, either physically or emotionally, and we hope to provide some relief to them at a difficult time.”
Setting up the Information and Support Desks is a costly exercise and we are encouraging online donations towards this important venture. To set up a new Information Desk, requires basic materials such as a trestle table, four plastic chairs, a branded tablecloth and pull-up banner, various printed materials (in appropriate languages) and name badges to identify volunteers.
“Ongoing costs incurred by volunteers include transport and data costs. Any individual or company or service organisation can make an impact by contributing towards assisting our volunteers so we can help more patients,” added Strydom.
She concludes stating, “CANSA applauds our volunteers for generously volunteering their time. Their willingness to give their time and service is greatly appreciated and their support allows us to continue to fulfil our mission and serve thousands of people in our communities each year.”