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DMU students offer care and compassion to cancer patients

Caring students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) gave up some of their holiday time to continue their compassionate work to help support people affected by cancer.

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The university’s volunteering scheme, called ‘Emotional and Practical Support’, is run in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support following a four-year collaboration. It sees people with cancer or their loved ones being supported by volunteers who can visit them at home for one or two hours on a weekly basis.

Volunteers provide befriending, a listening ear and someone they can talk to. They can also help with practical tasks like shopping, housework, gardening or walking the dog. These can all help lessen the burden while someone is undergoing cancer treatment or are caring for someone with cancer.

A total of 33 DMU students have volunteered for the befriending project during this academic year and 122 overall since it was launched in January 2013.

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It is an initiative which particularly attracts interest from DMU’s Nursing or Pharmacy students with it often being seen as a complement to their studies and a useful form of work experience. Around a third of this year’s volunteers are from these courses. Many of them volunteered their time over the Christmas holidays before returning to DMU for the start of term last week.

Final-year Nursing student Nadia Morawski, who has been a volunteer for the past 18 months, said: “The scheme is very important over the Christmas period as this is a very busy and social time of the year. Many service-users can feel detached or isolated because they may not be able to keep-up with things they have done previously.

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“Because of the immense changes and challenges the service-user faces physically and psychologically, the scheme allows much-needed support which may be needed particularly around this time of year. The simplest things – like a friendly face or someone to have a conversation about their week – can make such a difference; a volunteer is someone who can offer a helping hand.”

Twenty-five-year-old Nadia, who is from Leicester, is supporting someone who is recovering from cancer but is still undergoing some treatment.

Nadia added: “His cancer and treatment has left him with some chronic pain and a lot of different views on the world. Offering him someone to talk to and doing a couple of chores a week has made a vast difference to his life, and he has voiced this many times.  

“The most joyful and rewarding aspect of volunteering is hearing just how thankful and appreciative people are for things we might take for granted within our own lives. It is a two-way experience – we give emotional and practical support and in return we leave with a warm feeling and a greater insight into the complex community we live in.”         

Reema Sandhu, the university’sMacmillan Volunteering Coordinator, said: “Our volunteering scheme is a great way of increasing your employability skills and enhancing your CV, all while helping the local community and linking in with cancer care.

“The scheme also ties in very well with DMU’s commitment to ensuring that care and compassion underpins all Nursing and allied health professional training and practice.”

If you would like to know more about the scheme, please phone Reema on 0116 2013875 or email rsandhu@dmu.ac.uk.

Posted on Monday 16th January 2017

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