St George’s patient Janet: “The team realised that isolation and shielding (for cancer patients) would be really tough. Macmillan at St George’s stepped up, reaching out to as many patients as they could. It was a lifeline!”

The St George’s Macmillan Cancer Information & Support Centre has been shortlisted for a Macmillan Professionals Excellence award, recognising their inspirational work supporting people living with cancer in South London and beyond.

Macmillan professionals and teams up and down the country have been at the very forefront of the response to coronavirus. They’ve moved mountains to support colleagues and people with cancer when they needed it the most.

The Macmillan Cancer Information & Support Centre based at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was nominated by colleagues in the ‘Whatever It Takes Award’ category, which recognises the extraordinary efforts of individuals or teams who have had to adapt, innovate, and shown great resilience despite distressing situations, as well as always leading with compassion.

At the beginning of 2020, the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at St George’s Hospital had ambitions to consolidate and increase the services they provided to cancer patients. Unfortunately, as a result of the Covid pandemic, the centre had to close its doors and suspend all of its health and wellbeing activities until further notice.

The team were determined to make sure none of their patients felt alone or unsupported, so they quickly mobilised to create a YouTube channel and develop other new media initiatives. This meant that cancer patients in the hospital and those shielding at home could still receive the holistic care they needed during the most challenging time of their lives.

Health & Wellbeing Coordinator Estelle: “We had worked so hard to build up such a strong service, so when Covid happened there was a real sense of loss. It felt like we had been ripped away from our patients!

“But we quickly adapted, learning a lot about technology very quickly – we uploaded a new video every morning for 16 weeks. We featured health and wellbeing activities like guided meditation, chair-based exercise, singing, and even laughter yoga. It worked so well, and our patients enjoyed it.

“Our ‘CanChat’ telephone support line volunteers remained on standby at home throughout the pandemic, offering an empathic ear to patients wanting to talk to someone who had themselves experienced cancer.

“From interactive information posters, which helped patients access Macmillan information booklets via a QR code. To ‘Cancer Treatment Comfort Kits’ containing useful items that can bring relief to patients undergoing chemotherapy. We were constantly coming up with fresh ideas!

“When I heard we had been shortlisted for this award, I felt like a super excited 12-year-old! We were instantly on WhatsApp. It is really thrilling!”

Linda Cornelia, Macmillan Partnership Manager for SW London said:

“This is such wonderful news and congratulations to Janice, Estelle, and all the St. George’s cancer care team!

“These prestigious and independent awards highlight excellence across the UK and the impact of Macmillan teams who’ve gone above and beyond expectations to do whatever it takes to support people living with cancer.

“It’s an honour to be able to recognise the commitment, creativity and outstanding work the St George’s team achieved throughout the pandemic, to ensure people living with cancer did not miss out on vital information and support. Cancer is life changing and we believe everyone must get the support they need to live fully.”